FARGO—Anthony Bachman used to joke that his name should be on the office door in The VIP Room.
"His dream is now reality," said Gordy Richardson, who started the Fargo restaurant and catering business in 1993.
On Friday, Dec. 30, Richardson officially sold the restaurant at 624 Main Ave. to Bachman, a salad and sandwich cook there about eight years ago, and his wife, Sara Bachman.
Owning a restaurant has been the Moorhead resident's "long-term goal" for years.
The Fargo native and 2008 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in the Twin Cities worked his way up to executive chef at Santa Lucia in Fargo and met his wife, who was the front-of-house-manager at the restaurant, while working there.
He also started the kitchen at former bar and grill JT Cigarro.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, Bachman and his wife, who will manage the front of the house at The VIP Room, reopened the County Seat Cafe in the basement of the Cass County Courthouse.
Richardson started a catering business out of his home in 1992 with the help of his mother, Lou Richardson, who also helped him when he opened the restaurant the following year.
He recently turned 60 and said it seems like a good time to retire, which will give him and his wife more time to travel, take up new hobbies and enjoy their time in Fargo.
He'll help the Bachmans for the next month or so as they transition to restaurant owners. Lou Richardson will leave her recipes for the desserts she's been making for The VIP Room for the past 24 years as the business changes hands.
"I always knew that Anthony had a lot of energy and ability as a chef, and he had done a lot in both the restaurant and the catering part together," he said. "When he approached me about it, I was happy because I knew that with his experience, he would be a good fit for the business."
Bachman said he'd like to eventually freshen up the restaurant's look and decor, and he also has some ideas for revamping the menu. The eatery will retain its core concept and rotational lunch menu, he said, but he wants to try adding some hot sandwiches to the soup and sandwich option, including the possibility of a burger or a Cuban sandwich.
He also wants to once again start doing themed dinners every couple of months, including an upcoming dinner for Valentine's Day next month. That's something a former chef at The VIP Room did in the past.
Bachman said he knows the restaurant has plenty of loyal customers who get their lunch at The VIP Room. He wants to make sure the things they like, including the popular tomato basil soup, will stick around after the change in ownership.
"This has been around for 24 years and it's obviously working, so we don't want to change too much," he said. "We just want to update some of the menu items, try to keep some of the old, put a little new flair on it and just step up the quality."
What: The VIP Room
Where: 624 Main Ave., Fargo
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday
Phone: (701) 293-1999