Drunken Noodle to open in downtown East Grand Forks
The owners of Little Bangkok will soon open another restaurant in downtown East Grand Forks. Drunken Noodle, a pasta and noodle restaurant that started in downtown Fargo, is tentatively scheduled to open Jan. 1 in the former Applebee's space that...
The owners of Little Bangkok will soon open another restaurant in downtown East Grand Forks.
Drunken Noodle, a pasta and noodle restaurant that started in downtown Fargo, is tentatively scheduled to open Jan. 1 in the former Applebee's space that was vacated Aug. 30.
But co-owner Dave Scheer, 71, said the new East Grand Forks restaurant won't be the same as its Fargo counterpart, which serves pasta and noodle dishes from all over the world.
"The Drunken Noodle in Fargo was aimed mainly at the college crowd and the Saturday night crowd," he said. "We're aiming for more of a family crowd and a little more quality experience."
Scheer, a native Californian who worked in Japan, Korea and Europe as an engineer before moving to Fargo in 2004, got into the restaurant business in 2005 when he opened Thai Orchid in Moorhead.
He and his son, Thamrong Dechawuth, have since opened LeeLa, another Thai restaurant, as well as two Drunken Noodles and sushi bar Wasabi, all in Fargo. The south Fargo Drunken Noodle closed last year when they sold it to focus on their downtown location.
Scheer and Dechawuth also plan to open a restaurant in downtown Bismarck next year.
They first came to East Grand Forks last year when they opened Little Bangkok.
"We were really uncertain as to whether the restaurant would even be viable," he said. "It turned out that people here were really, really supportive."
Scheer said the community's positive reception convinced the business partners that another restaurant in East Grand Forks could work.
But the details didn't come together until about a month ago, when the owners of the building that housed Applebee's approached them to see if they were interested in the space.
Scheer said they recently signed a lease and work has begun to convert the former Applebee's. Drunken Noodle will repurpose some tables and booths, but he said the space will undergo a "major revamping" and Applebee's round bar will be removed to give it a new look.
"It won't be the same when it reopens," he said.
The remodeling will give the restaurant space for a stage, and Scheer said Drunken Noodle could host live acoustic music on weekends.
The restaurant won't offer sushi, but Scheer said the rest of the menu won't be finalized for a few more weeks.
"It's going to be like Drunken Noodle in Fargo, but with a more extensive menu," he said. "We've got some other concepts that we're maybe going to try."
Drunken Noodle will employ about 20 workers.
While most other restaurants that have come to Grand Forks in recent years have chosen to build along 32nd Avenue South and Washington Street, Scheer said his restaurants are "downtown-centered."
He said Drunken Noodle will be a good fit along the busy East Grand Forks boardwalk, which also is home to Blue Moose, Whitey's, Mike's Pizza, Boardwalk Bar and Grill, Mamma Maria's and the River Cinema movie theaters.
"It's a place where you go and say, 'Well, we don't need to decide yet because we're on our way to a place that has a lot of great restaurants,'" he said.
Scheer said his restaurants take a different approach to business than the national chains, an approach he said he grew to appreciate while traveling across the world during his 35-year career as an engineer.
"These restaurants are comfortable places you can sit and talk," he said. "The intent isn't to turn tables, to get them in and get them out; the intent is more to give them a dining experience that they can remember. And if they get that, well, maybe they will come back."
Johnson reports on local business. Reach him at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send email to email@example.com .