Famous Dave's has closed, but barbecue joints still giving it a go in Grand Forks
Red Shed to open in old Northside Café after operating out of a food truck. BigFoot Bar & Grill is one of the other barbecue joints in town. BigFoot operates out of the Ramada Inn.
GRAND FORKS — Tanner McShane had a test run.
He sold barbecue out of a food truck last summer in Grand Forks. Now he’s moving to an inside location at the former Northside Café building on Gateway Drive.
McShane and his wife, Callie, are undaunted by recent closures of barbecue hot spots in the city. Consistency in the product is a major selling point for the Red Shed Smokehouse.
The McShanes will open the business on March 1.
Last summer, they worked out of the truck after acquiring the business from Callie’s father in South Dakota. Customers will have a choice between sitting at the restaurant and taking an order to go. The business will open at 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. Closing time will be when it sells out for the day.
“You have to have the product and you have to have the personality to interact with the customers and keep it going,” Tanner said. “If the product isn’t right, it isn’t going to the window."
“We are known for our brisket sandwich, the meatloaf sandwich. The meatloaf was our most popular one."
BigFoot Bar & Grill is one of the other barbecue joints in town. BigFoot operates out of the Ramada Inn.
While BigFoot and the Red Shed are moving ahead, a few prominent barbecue establishments in Grand Forks have closed. Famous Dave’s was open for about six months next door to Vinyl Taco and closed late last year because of a worker shortage.
Lance Thorson, one of the owners, said his father operates a Famous Dave’s in Bismarck that is doing well after 19 years. But in recent years, Famous Dave’s in Grand Forks and Fargo have both closed their doors.
“Part of it is just the labor market, just being able to find and retain people,” Thorson said. “The thing with barbecue from the labor aspect of it, when you think of all the prep and making a lot of recipes and smoking the meat, it’s just a higher requirement to have people on and doing the labor.”
Red Shed Smokehouse, which acquired the lease to the former Northside Café earlier this month, will be staffed by the McShanes and others who have an interest in the barbecue business.
Preparation will be key. He said he will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays to prepare food for the rest of the week.
“We want to turn the north side of town back into a destination spot,” Tanner McShane said. “We have the (Ralph Engelstad Arena) right here, the Alerus right here. We want to make this become a spot to eat barbecue and have a good time.
“It’s got the room I need for my smokers and it’s got room in the building to expand and change the way we need to.”
He said the business plans to hold events, such as car shows.
“You can bring things here,” he said. “There’s plenty of room in this parking lot to do things. Options are endless.”
Barbecues have had a hard time staying open in Grand Forks.
Dickey's Barbecue Pit closed in the summer of 2105 after three years, leaving a vacant space at what may be Grand Forks' busiest intersection. A post on the restaurant's Facebook page said Dickey's would close and combine with the location in Fargo.
"We wish the community the best, and will cherish the memories you have given us," the post added. "Thank you for the opportunity to serve you!"
Dickey's, located at the corner of South Washington Street and DeMers Avenue, came under new ownership in 2014. A Starbucks now occupies the property.
And in 2019, the Wild Hog Smokehouse bar and Grill, 4401 S. Washington St., closed. The restaurant has gone through a number of iterations over the years, first opening as Jake’s in fall 2010, before being revamped as the Wild Hog, which featured smokehouse-style food.
Now the Sin Bin Bar and Casino and the Red Pepper South operate out of the property.