The Red Pepper will open a branch in part of the Wild Hog Smokehouse Bar and Grill in Grand Forks, bringing with it a new menu for the south-end restaurant.
Construction on a separation wall in the Wild Hog building at 4401 S. Washington St. began Monday. The Red Pepper will bring its classic menu to the new store, co-owner Jeff Tellmann said Tuesday.
It plans to open in the west half of the eatery in four to six weeks, taking over the kitchen and restaurant side of the building, Tellmann said. The Wild Hog will shrink its operations to the bar side, and the Tellmanns will create a separate menu for the Wild Hog.
"We basically look at it as an opportunity for more local flavor in Grand Forks," he said. "We think Grand Forks suffers from too many national chains and not enough local flavor.
Wild Hog will maintain ownership of the 5,200-square-foot building that was constructed in 2010. The Red Pepper has kept on much of the Wild Hog's kitchen staff, and both businesses are retaining as much of its staff as possible, Tellmann said.
He described the new menu for the Wild Hog as authentic Mexican that will include appetizers and a la carte items. Wild Hog no longer will feature smokehouse food, he said.
"We hope to have the Wild Hog menu launched in 10 days, so by the end of this month," he said.
The Wild Hog name will remain, Wild Hog investor Paul Sproule said.
Tellmann owns the Red Pepper franchise with his wife, Nicki. The couple has been looking for an opportunity to open a restaurant on the south end of Grand Forks "for some time," he said.
"We ended up approaching the Wild Hog group in early January just to see if there was an opportunity there," he said. "It's kind of an underserved area. There is a lot of residential growth ... but there just aren't a lot of food and beverage options out there."
Sproule said the move is a business opportunity for both restaurants. It shouldn't have any impact on events sponsored by Wild Hog, such as the annual Grand Forks Marathon, he said.
When asked how business was going for the Wild Hog, he said "fine."
Jeff Tellmann hopes the opening of the new branch will take pressure off of its other Grand Forks locations.
The Red Pepper opened in the 1960s, with the Tellmann family taking over in 1973. Jeff Tellmann took over ownership in 1997 after his father died, he said.
The original Red Pepper stands at 1011 University Ave., but the Tellmanns expanded in the 2000s-the Campus Place branch in Grand Forks opened at 415 N. 42nd St. in 2006 and the Fargo location opened in 2013.
The Wild Hog previously was called Jake's when it opened in 2010, but the name changed in the next year, according to Herald archives.