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A twist on tradition: Boiler Room aims to bridge gap between bar food, upscale eats

The Boiler Room offers a Cajun-spiced burger with guacamole, tri-color tortilla chips with pepperjack cheese on its menu. David Samson / The Forum1 / 2
Finishing touches are added to the Boiler Room as work continues on downtown Fargo’s newest restaurant and tavern. David Samson / The Forum2 / 2

FARGO - The newest restaurant and tavern in downtown Fargo will open soon, aiming to bridge the gap between traditional bar food and upscale eats that this neighborhood already boasts while offering breakfast and expanded hours.

The Boiler Room, at 210 Broadway in the renovated Loretta Building, is expected to be open for business around June 15, said Dan Hurder, managing partner of the establishment that’s also owned by Executive Chef Christian D’Agostino. They’ve owned Monte’s Downtown, located just a few doors south at 220 Broadway, since October 2012.

The newest eatery got its name through a Facebook contest last year, and Hurder said the winning suggestion “really resonated” with the owners.

“The Kilbourne Group (which renovated the building) let us know that they did have some of the original parts of the original boiler from the building that they said we were welcome to clean up and use in some of our décor if interested, so we do have some of that down there on display,” he said. “Between that and the fact that we are literally located in the original boiler room for the Loretta Building, it just made sense.”

New twist on bar food Hurder and D’Agostino first started talking about this new restaurant last summer. The pair began working with a designer in August to get ready for a major renovation project to make this basement space into an inviting hangout that they hope will appeal to young professionals and the rest of the downtown crowd here.

Hurder said it was important to hang onto as much original charm of the building as possible – a goal the Kilbourne Group has aimed for since starting its overhaul of the Loretta Building. The Boiler Room will boast original brick, exposed floor joists and other throwbacks to the building’s past.

Still, he said he didn’t want the new business to have that “basement feel,” so the back side that faces the alley has large windows and doors to bring in natural light, while glass blocks in the sidewalk along Broadway also will beam in light during the day. The basement floor was lowered to add ceiling height and make the space feel more open.

Inside, the Boiler Room will have seating for about 150, including about 50 seats in the lower dining room that can be closed off for private functions and separate diners from the rest of the bar area.

The remaining 100 seats will be split between high-top tables, booths and lounge seating for a more casual environment, Hurder said.

The restaurant also will have a large patio with room for about 35 in the alley behind Broadway.

“I’d say it’s a very well-balanced blend of modern and industrial,” he said.

Customers can enter through a door along Broadway, though Hurder said the restaurant is trying to promote using the main entrance in the alley, which also will be close to a city-owned parking lot just west of the building where patrons can park for free after 5 p.m.

“We’re really encouraging everybody to use that alley entrance,” he said.

Hurder said the Boiler Room will follow the “Monte’s spin” on bar food in some ways, though it will be a different kind of restaurant.

“At Monte’s, certainly we really focus on a higher price point and it’s a little bit more of a special occasion restaurant, a business-dinner kind of restaurant,” he said. “We’re looking for this to be that place that you want to go to dinner once or twice a week instead of once or twice a month.”

While downtown has plenty of “dive bars” and “high-end restaurants,” Hurder said it’s lacking in what the Boiler Room is trying to be – a place with “cool, creative twists” on traditional bar food, such as chicken wings and burgers, that also has moderately priced drinks and food.

The restaurant will serve breakfast seven days a week, something he said could make it a good fit for weekday breakfast meetings or a place to grab a bloody Mary and casual weekend breakfast.

For now, Hurder said the Boiler Room will be open 6:30 a.m. to midnight or later on weekdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and 8 a.m. to midnight on Sundays – “not quite 24 hours, but as close as we could get to it.”

Paul McMahon will serve as general manager, while Andrew Wehri will be the sous-chef under the direction of D’Agostino, who will continue to oversee the kitchens at the Boiler Room and Monte’s.

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a reporter for The Forum since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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