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Familiar Fargo restaurant plans move to former Metro Drug building downtown

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A rendering shows how diners will get to Wasabi along Second Avenue North once the restaurant relocates to the former Metro Drug building, 123 Broadway N., Fargo, later this year. Kilbourne Group / Special to The Forum2 / 4
A rendering of how Drunken Noodle will look once it moves to 414 Broadway, Fargo, in early 2018. Kilbourne Group / Special to The Forum3 / 4
Workers continue renovating the former Metro Drug, 123 Broadway N., in downtown Fargo on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017. Japanese restaurant Wasabi will move into the middle space on the ground floor of this building later this year. Dave Wallis / The Forum4 / 4

FARGO—A restaurant opening downtown late this year will be a familiar name in the neighborhood—it's long been in business just three blocks away.

Wasabi will move into the middle portion of the three-tenant main floor of the former Metro Drug building, 123 Broadway N., and face Second Avenue North.

Dave Scheer, a business partner with restaurant owner Keng Dechawuth, said Wasabi, which they opened at 623 NP Ave. in 2009, needs a better space. But shutting down for several months to remodel the current location would be too expensive, he said.

Instead, they're moving to the former Metro Drug pharmacy, which operated on the corner of Broadway and Second Avenue North from 1982 until July 2015. It was among several properties purchased by Gov. Doug Burgum's Kilbourne Group last year.

"It's better for us to make the move to a better site really in a renovated building than it is to try to renovate that building," Scheer said about the reason for the move.

Workers continue renovating the former Metro Drug, 123 Broadway N., in downtown Fargo on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017.

Business Development Manager Melissa Rademacher said Kilbourne Group is excited to work with the pair and get Wasabi as a tenant.

"Putting them right in the middle of the Metro Drug building was something that we were really gung-ho about," she said.

'Trying new things'

Crews have worked for months on a $1.8 million renovation of the two-story Dakotah Block building that, most recently, housed Metro Drug. The structure was built in 1893 and includes a 6,900-square-foot ground floor that originally housed furniture stores before it became a pharmacy in 1965.

A rendering shows how diners will get to Wasabi along Second Avenue North once the restaurant relocates to the former Metro Drug

Scheer said Kilbourne Group has told him he'll get access to the middle unit of the building around Oct. 1, and they can then fit up the space to open Wasabi there in early December.

Rademacher said Kilbourne Group is still in talks with two other tenants who could move into the remaining units of the building.

Wasabi won't be the only downtown restaurant seeing some changes as a result of this shuffle.

Scheer and Dechawuth operate another restaurant in their leased spot on NP Avenue, Drunken Noodle, that they opened in 2009. Scheer said Drunken Noodle will likely stay behind after Wasabi moves, though the pair plans to move Drunken Noodle to the former Navy recruiter's office, 414 Broadway, in the near future.

He said Drunken Noodle could open in its new spot, which is also owned by Kilbourne Group, sometime next spring, gaining a Broadway location and a new rooftop patio with the move.

Rademacher said Drunken Noodle will be a good addition to the block.

 A rendering of how Drunken Noodle will look once it moves to 414 Broadway, Fargo, in early 2018. Kilbourne Group / Special to T

"What's great about Dave and Keng is that they're open to new ideas and how do they add that experience for the customer," she said.

Scheer said they plan to add a poke bar in the new Wasabi location after serving up the Hawaiian fish, rice and vegetable dish in their Poke Bowl food trailer all summer.

Their current restaurant space at 623 NP Ave., which they lease from Quantum Development Inc., could become a new eatery entirely, according to Scheer. He and Dechawuth are talking about opening a ramen restaurant there in the coming months.

The pair have opened several restaurants in the region and still own Wasabi and Drunken Noodle in Fargo. Dechawuth also has Thai restaurants in Bemidji, Minn., and Georgia.

If it seems like the duo are talking about a lot of changes, Scheer said that's because they are—something he said is more important than ever as the need to "experiment" becomes a vital part of keeping the doors open.

"In the restaurant business, I don't think these days you can just sit still," he said. "You have to keep trying new things as tastes change and as the way you deliver your food changes."

Ryan Johnson

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

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