The Shire Bar & Grill opens in East Grand Forks after two years

The Shire Bar & Grill, owned by Stain and her brother Brian Moore, is a movie-themed restaurant seating about 75 people. It has a fully-functional bar and serves food that will be relatively easy to take into a theater in the future.

The Shire.jpeg
The Shire is now open in East Grand Forks. (Jacob Holley/Grand Forks Herald)

Penny Stai finished her labor of love just in time for it to have a soft opening in mid-October, but now The Shire Bar & Grill is finally open.

It took more than two years for Stai’s vision to come to fruition late this year, and now those who visit the River Cinema in East Grand Forks can enjoy a movie and head to the new restaurant next door for lunch or dinner afterward.

“It’s to continue drawing traffic into the mall,” Stai said. “The Shire is part of River Cinema in a lot of ways. This used to be our concession stand.”

The Shire Bar & Grill, owned by Stai and her brother Brian Moore, is a movie-themed restaurant seating about 75 people. It has a fully-functional bar and serves food that will be relatively easy to take into a theater in the future.

“We do appetizers, wings, smash burgers and grilled sandwiches,” Stai said. “The names are very cool.”


The menu is peppered with items referencing movies new and old. For appetizers, or “Previews” as the menu dubs them, customers could choose Big Hero Stix, which is a basket of mozzarella sticks. The entrees, called “Features,” also includes a Hulk Smash Patty Burger, The Pumbaa, Steak on a Plane, Samuel BLT Jackson and more.

Along the walls of The Shire are movie memorabilia, including backlit movie posters and movie props from anything from The Avengers and other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, to Star Wars lightsabers and even an antique projector. A towering Predator from the Predator films stands above the bar looking down upon its prey -- those having a drink in director’s chairs donning the names of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Ron Howard and more.

“Some of the stuff we had, and other things we scoured the internet, Etsy and different places to find,” Stai said. “We have a lot of stuff in here, a lot of stuff to look at.”

Penny Stai.jpeg
Penny Stai co-owns The Shire with her brother Brian Moore. (Jacob Holley/Grand Forks Herald)

The Shire has 12 employees, and Stai said she was thankful to not have issues finding employees despite a labor shortage. She was able to find people to staff the bar as well, which serves drinks on a rotating basis.

“We’ve got an excellent staff,” Stai said. “I’m very, very proud of our staff. We actually didn’t have any problems finding people. We actually found staff right away. I am very fortunate that we were able to. We have excellent cooks and excellent servers with actually a lot of experience, and a manager, as well. That went really well.”

Stai said the goal of The Shire was never to compete with the other restaurants in East Grand Forks. She focused on adding food to the menu that would be easy to carry into the theater that also isn’t something a nearby restaurant specializes in.


“We can’t compete with the wonderful restaurants around us,” Stai said. “We have like nine amazing restaurants around us, so we’re looking at Up North Pizza and Mike’s Pizza - we don’t need to have pizza. We have two wonderful places that have pizza right here. Blue Moose is fabulous. We have wonderful partnerships with restaurants around here, so we were looking at what they don’t have. We don’t have pastas, seafood or steak, we’re looking at grilled sandwiches, smash burgers and appetizers, that kind of stuff.”

Stai said in the four weeks The Shire Bar & Grill has been open, she and the staff have gotten into a rhythm with running the restaurant. She hopes people will start coming in now that the soft opening is over.

“It’s gone really well, very well,” Stai said. “A lot of people don’t know that we’re open yet, but we’re hoping to get the word out now that we feel like the staff and everybody is very comfortable with the menu, and we’re ready to go.

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Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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