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Johanna Armstrong | Daily Journal

Closing its doors: The Spot Panini & Wine in Fergus Falls will be closing its doors after over a decade. The restaurant was a popular place for artists and community members to see live music, special events and art showcases.

After over 11 years as a part of downtown Fergus Falls, The Spot Panini & Wine will be closing on Thursday, Oct. 24. Owner Michael Loreno has taken the position of legislative specialist at Rural Minnesota CEP in Detroit Lakes and while that means he has to step away from The Spot, he believes the spirit of The Spot will continue on with new owners interested in picking up where he left off, with new management and possibly a new name though nothing has been finalized.

Loreno opened The Spot as a way to provide someplace that stayed open late into the evening in downtown Fergus Falls, a need he feels The Spot is unique in meeting even today. Since then, he’s hosted numerous live-music shows, special events and artists who showcase their work on his walls. How that art got there is one of his favorite memories, way back in the early days of The Spot.

“I had an artist here once by the name of Jack Hardy early on, probably close to a decade ago, and he’s a famous artist from SoHo in Manhattan and he ran a little get-together called Fast Folk and he’s actually quite famous for that, he passed away several years ago but he’s the impetus for me starting the Artist of the Month on the wall in the first place,” Loreno remembers, speaking about Hardy’s Fast Folk nonprofit organization which he started as a way for aspiring singer-songwriters to release their first recordings. “He would get people to write music, publish the music and sell the music to the public in rapid response instead of just letting it sit on the desk, that’s how it got the name Fast Folk, and I decided to have artists hurry up and make art, hang it on the wall and sell it.”

In addition to encouraging local visual artists, Loreno also played host to many local bands on Thursdays and weekends. “We have the audible arts here, too,” Loreno says. “I had music in the back room — open mic night, traditional Celtic music and other bands that play original music that would otherwise have no other venue.” The last Thursday of the month he’d also host Creatively Uncorked events, as well as playing host to the monthly Danse Macabre event, trivia nights and more.

“I’m going back to my roots,” Loreno says. “I have a master’s degree in public administration and I’m going to go back to using it. I had an opportunity to go ahead and do the thing that I was trained to do and that I wanted to do at a way earlier age, public administration. I’m going back to the exciting world of public administration.”

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