THE EATBEAT: Bustling atmosphere adds to the eating experience at Happy JoesThings get at sixes and sevens when they are busy at Happy Joe’s on South Washington Street in Grand Forks. And that is fine with me. If you want peace and quiet, I suggest going a little later or maybe on a weekday.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
Things get at sixes and sevens when they are busy at Happy Joe’s on South Washington Street in Grand Forks. And that is fine with me.
I like kids. I like people who are happy while they are eating. I didn’t really mind the stray French fry left on my table and the kids from the birthday party room floating around. It’s OK the menu was a little sticky. If you want peace and quiet, I suggest going a little later or maybe on a weekday.
I went at 12:45 p.m. on a recent Saturday. I paid for my trip through the buffet and moved on to the buffet and pizza table. At this point, many of the trays were empty, but they were quickly being replaced by a busy, busy staff.
In the interest of my waistline, I passed by the wonderful looking caramel rolls and only looked at the Wisconsin cheese soup. I was drawn to a pizza topped with crisp lettuce and fresh tomatoes. I couldn’t pass by the pepperoni pizza with tomatoes and olives. I liked that the slices aren’t cut too wide. That way, you can try a couple … or more.
At the salad bar, I found some fresh green peas, sunflower seeds, ripe olives, cucumber slices and celery. I tell myself that it is good to eat a balanced meal.
I found a place to sit and noticed there was some serious eating going on around me. I liked the atmosphere.
I had been there later in the afternoon on a Sunday when the place was quiet. That was OK, too, because it gives you a chance to chat with a companion.
Happy Joe’s has been in Grand Forks since 1976 and was purchased 20 years ago by Todd Halverson. He was a former football player at Moorhead State University (now Minnesota State University-Moorhead) who took a chance and bought the restaurant.
Things have gone well for Halverson. The restaurant completed a major remodeling one year ago. It is now more inviting with earthy tones, new booths and tables. The game room is renovated, and the party room is more attractive. The miniature train Halverson brought to Happy Joe’s still runs around the perimeter on a track near the ceiling. You buy tickets and hope for prizes.
Owner-manager Halverson thought for some time before going ahead with redecorating. Now, he knows it was the right move. He’s enjoying the continued, lively business. When he considers all the new restaurants in town, he insists the competition only makes them better.
He likes coming up with new items: for instance, a cookie crème pizza. And this month, he’s bringing on boneless wings.
Happy Joe’s is far more than a pizza place. It features appetizers, salads, pastas, toasted sandwiches and burgers. There are lunch specials during the week that include a soft drink for $4.69. On Wednesday evenings, there are reduced prices for children, and the place is jumping.
Happy Joe’s is one of more than 60 in the group of restaurants in the Midwest. The company was founded by Happy Joe Whitty in 1972.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or call (701) 772-1055.