Beginning this winter, two Quad-City favorites will team up — Snowstar Winter Park and Happy Joe's.

The pair announced last week that a Happy Joe's Pizzagrille will open at Snowstar when the Andalusia winter sports venue opens for the season. For those who ski, snowboard or tube down its slopes, the new partnership means the addition of a full-service restaurant. 

In addition to classic Happy Joe's pizzas, plans are in the works for some new menu options exclusive to Snowstar. The latest venture was announced at Happy Joe's sister Pizzagrille at The Mills at Riverbend Commons, Moline.

"Every time Happy Joe's gets to do something new, I get just as excited as I did back in 1972 when I open my first restaurant in the Village of East Davenport," said Happy Joe Whitty, the founder and CEO.

The new venture has been in the talks since January when Snowstar reached out to Happy Joe's after an electrical fire destroyed its upper lodge area.

The snow park "has obviously faced a few serious obstacles in the past, but we feel this is a huge win, not only for us, but for our guests and the Andalusia community as a whole," said Snowstar general manager Dan McCanna.

Snowstar co-owner Jim Bowman said the Pizzagrille is part of it commitment to provide guests "an unmatched experience" from slopes to snacks.

The partnership also fits well with Happy Joe's dedication to creating memories and family fun.

"Our family has been a member of the Snowstar family since its inception so this decision to expand there made so much sense for us and for them," said Kristel Whitty-Ersan, Happy Joe's co-owner and marketing director. 

Mel Foster donation helps students 

Kids are back in school now and many can thank Mel Foster Co. for one of their key school supplies — pencils. 

The Quad-City real estate firm donated 45,000 pre-sharpened pencils to children in grades K-8 in the Quad-Cities and surrounding school districts. 

"Back to school time was always exciting for me and my siblings as children," recalled Lynsey Engels, president of Mel Foster's real estate brokerage. "As adults and parents now, we realize how important it is for a child's self esteem to be high — especially as they enter a new grade or even a new school after a move."

Engels added that the company recognizes the burden families and teachers can face in buying school supplies. "By giving school supplies, Mel Foster Co. helps to give that little boost that comes with having something new at back to school time," she said.

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Aleris to be sold to Zhongwang

Aleris Corp., a global aluminum rolled products producer and owner of the former Nichols Aluminum in Davenport, has announced it will have a new owner. 

It will be acquired by Zhongwang USA LLC, a company majority-owned and led by Liu Zhongtian. He is founder of China Zhongwang Holdings Limited. The aggregate value of Aleris amounts to $2.33 billion, comprising $1.11 billion in cash for the equity to be paid by Zhongwang USA, plus $1.22 billion in net debt.

Aleris will retain its Cleveland headquarters, management team and name. There will be no changes to current operations, contracts or commitments.

In a news release, Aleris president and CEO Sean Stack said the strategic ownership "will allow us to accelerate our strategy to expand our capabilities to support the production of high-value advanced materials for the global automotive and aerospace markets, while maintaining our position as a leading supplier to critical regional markets like building and construction."

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017.

Biz Bytes is a weekly column by Quad-City Times reporter Jennifer DeWitt. Contact her at 563-383-2318 or jdewitt@qctimes.com.

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