Portrait of a lying wolf 3 originally uploaded by Tambako The Jaguar
According to this article in the Star Tribune, a Farmington furniture store which has been an imposing sight along MN-50 will close and then reopen as a wildlife education center and bar/grill.
From the article:
“The Habitat” will display a variety of native animals in their natural surroundings inside large, fenced-in pens. The inside of the log building will feature a bar and grill and gift shop. The walls will be adorned with animal mounts accompanied by educational text.
This is certainly an interesting idea and one that I welcome in the area but I really have to wonder about the survival rate of a large endeavor such as this. Let’s compare the well known North American Bear Center in Ely to this project in Farmington:
1. Ely is a tourist destination with many people flocking there at all times of the year for outdoor activities. While that’s true of Ely, Farmington has no such visibility.
2. The North American Bear Center currently charges $8.50 for adult admission while The Habitat plans to charge $7.50.
3. The North American Bear Center has corporate sponsorship already, something which The Habitat only hopes to achieve at this point. But even with the visibility, admission rates and corporate sponsorship of the Bear Center, they are still nearly 3/4 of a million in debt and begging for money to stay afloat. Will these problems filter to The Habitat as well, especially after the changes (including landscaping to make you feel as if you’re “up north”–I assume like Ely, 70 additional acres of land for petting farm animals–which you can do for free at any number of local farms or the Minnesota Zoo) to the property to accommodate this venture?
Now on to what really intrigued me about this article…the fact that they are planning to have a bar and grill inside named the Predator-n-Prey Bar and Grill. Here are my thoughts on that:
1. Do we really need yet another bar and grill in the South Metro, let alone on the outskirts of Farmington (land of the Legion, Gossips, the Longbranch, etc, etc, etc?) serving the same old tired menu items such as Honey Weiss, Michelob Golden Light, cheese curds, and burgers?
2. Farm to fork opportunities are ripe in that area, why not try and get something a little different and really put yourself on the map not only for the animals but also the food. Make it a double-whammy!
3. Their website states this will be an excellent location for catered events with wildlife viewing at every turn. I guess I’d be more willing to go with the Minnesota Zoo for that type of event but being that I had my wedding there and while I hated their planning staff, I guess I’d be more inclined to do that then a new outfit.
Anyway, enough about what I think…how about you? Would you be willing to go to The Habitat to see their animals and eat their food or have your event catered there? Would this be something you’d be willing to visit more than once? Do you agree that a bar and grill just isn’t necessary and instead something a little more exciting might be better? Whatever you have to say about The Habitat in Farmington go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say!