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Royal Fork

THE EATBEAT:Fried chicken, bread pudding top Royal Fork choices February 9, 2005 Sunday dinner is, in general, a thing of the past. But you can come close to an old-fashioned Sunday dinner in the Royal Fork Buffet in Columbia Mall. The restaurant...

THE EATBEAT:Fried chicken, bread pudding top Royal Fork choices

February 9, 2005

Sunday dinner is, in general, a thing of the past. But you can come close to an old-fashioned Sunday dinner in the Royal Fork Buffet in Columbia Mall.

The restaurant boasts 135 items, not counting the ketchup. I like to go there occasionally to pick and choose. I find Royal Fork to be consistent in its quality and a good buy. When you eat there, your check includes beverage and dessert. Sunday brunch and dinners are $9.83. including tax. and $9.50 for seniors. Lunch checks are $7.48, including tax, and $7.27 for seniors. Children 12 and younger eat for 50 cents for each year at lunch time and 60 cents per year for dinner.

It had been months since I visited the Royal Fork Buffet, but last week I found everything much the same. The entrance is near Sears in the mall. You line up and pay the cashier. The restaurant is large with two dining areas. At the rear, there are banquet rooms where you on short notice easily can make arrangements for seating a larger group of people.


A late lunch in Royal Fork Buffet means you won't need much for supper. I started by picking up vegetable-beef soup at the soup table, where there usually are four choices. I moved on to the salad bar and picked out dabs of bean salad, coleslaw, pickled beets, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds and some black olive rings (I'm an olive freak). The soup was good. The coleslaw was great, crisp with some poppy seeds and a nice thin dressing.

Beyond soup and salad there were choices of chicken, fish and other meats. Also pasta including a bland macaroni and cheese that would please any youngster. I tried a couple meatballs.

The traffic flows easily in Royal Fork. You help yourself to beverages. It's fairly easy to find a place to sit because attendants constantly are clearing tables and pouring coffee for guests. People tend to linger and visit. The desserts included cake, cobblers, Jell-O, soft-serve ice cream, puddings. It's fun browsing around for sweets to finish off the meal. I ended up with a couple tablespoons of something chocolate and gooey.

Royal Fork Buffet is a pleasant facility with carpeting and touches of floral print on ruffles on the brass divider between the two dining areas. There are attractive green vines above the buffet tables. The restaurant is clean, and the buffet tables are well tended by cooks in white uniforms.

Royal Fork Buffets are found in Fargo and Minot in North Dakota and Sioux Falls, S.D. There are two in Canada and two in the state of Washington. Tim Vermulm, the manager in Grand Forks, started out as a bus boy in Sioux Falls and worked in Seattle before coming here.

Royal Fork Buffet has been in Grand Forks 20 years, and Vermulm says business has been good with private parties and catering important to the bottom line. The restaurant has 65 full- and part-time employees.

Some of the most popular items are fried chicken, tomato soup and bread pudding. The restaurant tries to have different items from time to time and rotate foods. While it offers a chance to taste several vegetables, Vermulm says customers go heaviest on the old standbys - corn and green beans.

Royal Fork Buffet has cards for seniors with the 11th meal free after 10 stamps. Tuesday dinner is half price for children through the age of 12.


There are a few minuses. In spite of attention given, it's hard to keep everything completely fresh. An orange slice from the salad bar was dry on one side. The dessert pans sometimes get down to the dregs before they are replaced.

Among the pluses: There are coat hangers in the entry of the restaurant. The restrooms are clean and well tended.

Royal Fork Buffet

Columbia Mall

Management: Tim Vermulm, manager; Jerry Cavin, Boise, Idaho, owner.

Reservations: 746-0869.

Hours: Opens 11 a.m. Monday through Saturday, closes 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; opens 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for brunch Sunday, with dinner from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Seating capacity: 440 including banquet rooms.


Pay: Major credit cards accepted.

Report card: A wide choice of wholesome food for a reasonable price in pleasant nonsmoking surroundings. You go away feeling stuffed or at least satisfied.

Reach Hagerty by e-mail at mhagerty@gfherald.com or by phone at 772-1055, 780-1124 or (800) 477-6572, extension 124.

© 2005- Grand Forks Herald

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