A new family diner is set to open in August in East Grand Forks, and the owner may just be the youngest multiple-restaurant owner in the country.
Joe Bushaw IV will open Joe’s Diner in the building that housed Season’s Family Restaurant, which closed in April 2019. This will be the second restaurant for Bushaw, who owns another Joe’s Diner in Webster, S.D. The Crookston native’s restaurant will have daily specials, a Sunday breakfast buffet and all the food is homemade, down to the pies and cookies.
“I just love people to feel welcomed and feel like they're at home, and just feel like one big family,” Bushaw told the Herald in a Thursday phone call. “And that's what we are.”
Other restaurants in the country are owned by young people, but when Bushaw mentioned to people in Webster he was opening a second restaurant in East Grand Forks, he was told that would make him the youngest two-time restaurant owner in the United States.
Bushaw got his start in the industry when working at RBJ’s Restaurant in Crookston. He loved the customer service aspect of working in a restaurant, and at 18 years old bought what was then called the Diner on Main, in Webster. A few workers there suggested he change the name.
“I was actually told by a couple of my employees that Joe's Diner has a good ring to it,” he said.
That diner was only up and running for three months before the coronavirus pandemic swept through the nation, and Bushaw had to close it down for seven weeks. A Paycheck Protection Program loan allowed him to keep his staff employed, and the restaurant is back operating at full capacity there. Bushaw said he intends to spend every other weekend in South Dakota, and his restaurant will be run by a manager there.
Bushaw decided to open a restaurant in East Grand Forks to be closer to his family -- parents, grandparents, seven siblings and aunts and uncles. He chose the spot on Third Avenue Northeast off of Business Highway 2, because he likes the location, and it makes it easy for those family members in Crookston to visit.
“It's kind of perfect for all around, right off the highway, right by the business district,” he said.
Now Bushaw is remodeling his restaurant space. The building is being painted and stained, new equipment is being brought in and the booths and chairs are being reupholstered. Bushaw posted on social media about opening a restaurant here that got a lot of attention.
“I'm closed, and I have people come into the restaurant saying ‘Oh my gosh, I can't wait for you to open,’” he said.
Bushaw comes from a long line of local business owners. His grandfather, also named Joe Bushaw, owned Club 81, Grand Forks’ only strip club, until it burned down in a fire in January 1986. His grandparents, he said, also owned other bars in town. His great grandmother, Neome Bushaw, was a Grand Forks City Council member for 16 years. Neome died in January this year.
The tentative opening date for Joe’s Diner is Aug. 17.