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Filling a niche

Capone's restaurant, which moved from Grand Forks to McVille, N.D., a year ago, closed last month. But McVille officials moved quickly to fill the void and already have an operator in place to open a new cafe and restaurant in the vacant space. A...

Capone's restaurant, which moved from Grand Forks to McVille, N.D., a year ago, closed last month.

But McVille officials moved quickly to fill the void and already have an operator in place to open a new cafe and restaurant in the vacant space.

A mid-September opening is planned for the McVille Restaurant in this small Nelson County town that is on its fourth restaurant in the same spot since construction was completed on the building in 2005.

"There's no doubt in my mind that it will work," said Derek Roach, who was hired this week by the city to manage the new cafe/restaurant. "The community needs it. There's no other restaurant in town. The town has enough of a population to support it."

McVille, population 408 according to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau estimate from 2007, has a hospital, a school, nursing home, golf course, motel and a bar. But for a variety of reasons over the years, the town has struggled to retain a cafe and restaurant.


So the city, which owns the building, set out to find an operator for the business and eliminated many of the start-up costs.

Roach will manage the restaurant and will start out reporting to a five-member advisory board formed by the city to oversee operations at the restaurant. The city will take care of food costs, workers' salaries and utilities and won't charge rent until the business gets on its feet financially.

Roach, who turns 20 in October, said he plans to take over ownership and control of the restaurant in about six months.

"We wanted to keep a restaurant in town," said Paul Aaser, a member of the McVille City Council who is chairman of the advisory group that oversees the restaurant and its building. "It's too difficult to lease a restaurant. It just needed a boost to get it going. We've really gotten people proactive."

Aaser said the city had no profit and loss statement to show those interested in leasing the building, one reason why the city decided to take over the restaurant's operations so it could gauge its profitability. But he said the city hopes it has found a long-term solution and that Roach will continue to run the restaurant for a long time.

Renae Arneson, McVille's auditor, said having a restaurant in town is part of the city's strategic plan.

The city built the 4,000-square-foot building 3½ years ago through a combination of USDA Rural Business Enterprise grant funds, private donations and economic development funds, to house a restaurant.

"We've been hearing for years that we needed a restaurant," Arneson said. "That restaurant is pretty important for our community.


"We're going to let them use the facility for basically nothing. This was a community need. We're not looking to make money on it. We would like to break even. Basically, it's a turnkey business. We lease it out so someone can create a business."

Roach said the new restaurant will employ about five workers and is expected to open Sept. 15. The cafe/restaurant will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and also will be open for dinner Friday and Saturday nights, he said. A senior meals program will be offered and the business also will cater.

It will have a basic menu including breakfast dishes, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, fish, kid's meals, pies and pastries.

That will be a major departure from Capone's, which offered a more extensive, upscale and expensive menu.

Arneson said she enjoyed Capone's food and she's sorry that it didn't work out.

"They targeted more of a specialty," Aaser said of Capone's. "I don't think there was enough support in the community for it. We're pretty much a meat and potatoes community."

Aurora Hospital construction, insurance update

A generator installed this week at the future Aurora Hospital under construction in Grand Forks may be the largest such generator in the city.


"It is the biggest one in the city right now," said Scot Becker of Interstate Power Systems, which sells and services power generators including the new one at the Aurora Hospital. Interstate Power Systems also has done work at Altru Health System, the Alerus Center and the cities of Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.

Becker said Altru has more than one generator in different parts of its complex.

Becker speculated that Aurora's generator is large enough for the hospital to be expanded in the future.

Aurora Hospital is on track to be completed by fall 2009, according to Aurora officials. Plans submitted to the city call for 66 beds and 200 employees, but Aurora officials have declined to offer any details on the hospital.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota announced it would not contract with the new hospital last fall.

Spokesperson Denise Kolpack said Blue Cross Blue Shield has not changed its stance on the new hospital.

Kolpack said Aurora officials, who last fall said they still planned to apply to Blue Cross Blue Shield for coverage, have not yet applied for coverage.



n The Royal Fork Buffet restaurant in Fargo will close Sunday night. But the Grand Forks and Minot locations of the Royal Fork Buffet chain will remain open, according to the Fargo Forum.

n The number of North Dakota businesses with paid employees grew 5.9 percent from 2000 to 2006, according to the North Dakota State Data Center at North Dakota State University. As of mid-March 2006, North Dakota had 21,332 businesses employing 278,423 paid workers, up 9.1 percent from 255,178 employees in mid-March 2000. The state's total payroll was $8.4 billion in 2006, up 38.7 percent from 2000.

n A recent Ball State University report ranks North Dakota among the best states in the nation in manufacturing and logistics. The report gives North Dakota an A for overall placements in 20 categories, including property taxes, sales taxes, unemployment insurance, corporate taxes, crime and percentage of the population who are college graduates.

n During the first half of 2008, Verizon Wireless spent more than $11 million on its North Dakota network, installing new cell phone towers and upgrading to improve cell phone reception and cut down on dropped calls. Over the past 6½ years, Verizon has invested more than $141 million into its network in North Dakota.

n Gate City Bank is providing another 100,000 free reusable shopping bags to the public, in addition to the 100,000 bags the bank gave away over the previous eight months, in an effort to limit the use of plastic bags and help the environment. Residents can visit any of Gate City Bank's 28 locations to pick up a free reusable shopping bag.

To report business news, reach Schuster at (701) 780-1107; (800) 477-6572, ext. 107; or send e-mail to rschuster@gfherald.com . Read Schuster's business blog at www.areavoices.com/bizbuzz .

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