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Published January 22 2011

Trade Talk: Snow lifts spirits at Casselton distillery

You might be wondering: Will all of this snow ever melt?

Customers of the Maple River Distillery in Casselton might be the only ones hoping the answer is “no.”

That’s because they are using this year’s plentiful snowfall to their advantage by creating rhubarb vodka snowcones.

They use – you guessed it – snow, and they mix it with the rhubarb vodka made at the distillery.

“That’s the craze right now,” said Greg Kempel, who owns the distillery with his wife, Susan.

The distillery has been making vodka, which has about 35 to 40 percent alcohol content, and cordials, which are about 15 percent alcohol, since it opened in December 2009.

In fact, Kempel said the rhubarb vodka has become almost as popular as the wine from the Maple River Winery in Casselton, which Kempel also owns.

Kempel is getting ready to release a new apple vodka and cordial in the next week or two. He is also negotiating with a distributor in California for the locally made vodka.

The products are available in Fargo-Moorhead liquor stores or online at www.mapleriverdistillery.com.

45th Street McDonald’s to reopen March 1

You might be interested to know that the Fargo McDonald’s on 45th Street and 19th Avenue South, closed since an Oct. 30 grease fire damaged the restaurant, is targeted to reopen March 1.

In addition to refinishing and repairing fire damage, the business is also remodeling the exterior, adding storage space, and making the grill area more efficient, said Gregg Matejka, director of operations.

Customers are eager for the restaurant to reopen, Matejka said, adding that he is often asked when that will happen.

“It’s a very good location so there are a lot of people who miss it,” he said.

Employees were relocated to other Fargo McDonald’s locations. Many of them moved to the new McDonald’s that opened in the Love’s Travel Stops & Country Store at 32nd Avenue South and Interstate 29 a couple of weeks after the fire, Matejka said.

The 45th Street McDonald’s is now hiring in preparation for the March reopening.

Business groups headed to the hill

On a final note, it looks like politics and business will collide in the coming month, as several area business groups prepare to take part in North Dakota and Minnesota’s “Day at the Hill” events.

Involved are the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp., Home Builders Association of Fargo Moorhead, F-M Area Association of Realtors and the Fargo Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The North Dakota Day at the Hill will be Feb. 3. That morning, chamber members will board a bus and head to the Capitol in Bismarck to meet legislators and to talk about the most pressing issues facing business and industry.

Minnesota’s Day at the Hill is Feb. 22 in St. Paul.

The chamber is committed to being more involved in public policy and taking positions on important issues that affect business, said Craig Whitney, Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.

“Advocating for legislation that continuously improves and advances our business environment is at the heart of what our chamber stands for,” he said. “Exposing chamber members to the legislative process is a vital piece of that increased involvement.”

You can also connect with Trade Talk online at www.tradetalk.areavoices.com.

Readers can reach Forum business reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502.

Business reporter Tracy Frank contributed to this report.