THE EATBEAT: Forks and Spoons holds down corner at mall food court

He couldn't understand me, and I didn't know what he said. But there was a description of the food on the signs behind the counter, and I did my share of pointing.

He couldn't understand me, and I didn't know what he said. But there was a description of the food on the signs behind the counter, and I did my share of pointing.

I was at Magic Chop Stix, one of four food concessions in the Columbia Mall food court. It was past lunch time, and I was hungry.

I chose a three-item combo meal -- rice, vegetables and a fiery, crusty chicken. Instead of a soft drink for $1.39 to $1.59, I asked for water.

And it went well with the well-seasoned fare. The rice was good with bits of vegetables in it. But it was a test of dexterity to eat it with a plastic fork. I enjoyed the veggie mix with broccoli because it was not overcooked and soggy. It cost $7.13, with tax. I was well-satisfied.

I noticed the Chef's special for the day was orange peel shrimp served with rice or lo mein noodles and a medium-sized soft drink for $6.19. I also found the cash register was talking to me as I paid for my food. A voice said how much money you tendered and what the change will be.


I like eating in the food court because it is so large. You can choose a quiet place and read a book or just watch people. Or meet friends around wooden tables.

Magic Stix is located right next to a Japanese Grill, where I saw a sushi sign. And there is row of different and interesting looking dishes inside a display case.

Then, there's a Subway managed by Ann Bachman.

An attendant told me the clubhouse sandwich is one of the best-sellers. Signs promote eight different subs, each $5. And there is a 6-inch "Sub of the Day" for $2.79. The shop offers soup ($2.20) to make it a meal. Subway is appealing with its array of fresh-cut accoutrements and servers with plastic gloves.

The shop on the corner with two-way traffic is called Forks and Spoons. It's been open for five months. Sometimes, business is slow. Other times, there are lines, according to Mark and Elaine Netland, who run the shop with their son and daughter-in-law, Justin and Tanya Netland.

The elder Netlands say it is "sort of a Ma and Pa place." For 19 years, they ran a similar shop called Dairy Land in Bagley, Minn. They serve burgers, hotdogs, taco in a bag. They also have pizza and a little of everything, including soft-serve treats.

Prices are reasonable. The Netlands buy their buns from Hugo's, and they serve L&M Meats. And they are getting a good business from people who work in the mall.

The eating doesn't end at the food court. Pretzelmakers has been near the center of the mall for years. People come to expect the inviting smell of fresh, hot pretzels. Often, there's a line. The original pretzel is $2.50, but there are various other creations. A caramel nut crumb pretzel for $3.30 seems to be at the high end. There also are soft drinks and smoothies.


Some shoppers prefer the quiet corner near JC Penneys, where Porpoura Coffee House awaits. Managed by Amanda Lindstrom, it is open early as 9 a.m. to accommodate people who walk in the mall. Part of its profits is used to help patients who go to the Altru Cancer Center.

The shop has a cozy couch, two large soft chairs in the back and tables and chairs. You also find coffee and tea as well as Smoothies and frozen blended drinks. There is Italian soda for $3 and iced tea for $2 and an assortment of pastries and muffins.

Reach Hagerty at or call (701) 772-1055.

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