Newly-opened Frank’s Lounge honors a father’s memory, downtown icon

Jeff Thomas named his new bar and restaurant Frank’s Lounge, after his late father, who was an insurance man in Fargo. Thomas said his father, whose photo is displayed on walls of the bar, taught him that when it comes to doing business, treating people right pays dividends in the long run. Dave Olson / The Forum
Jeff Thomas named his new bar and restaurant Frank’s Lounge, after his late father, who was an insurance man in Fargo. Thomas said his father, whose photo is displayed on walls of the bar, taught him that when it comes to doing business, treating people right pays dividends in the long run. Dave Olson / The Forum

Fargo - When Jeff Thomas was developing his idea for Frank’s Lounge, the newly opened bar and restaurant on 52nd Avenue in south Fargo, he said one of the toughest things about the project was deciding on a name.

In retrospect, he said, there really was only one choice.

“We wanted a neighborhood bar and a name everybody would be comfortable with,” Thomas said. “It feels good to say, ‘Let’s go to Frank’s.’ ”

And for Thomas, it feels good to hear the name because it belonged to his father, the late Frank Thomas, a Fargo insurance man who died about 20 years ago.

Thomas said his father was very involved in the community and to this day he runs into business people who knew his father and want to talk about him.

“My dad taught me at a very early age you treat people right and it will pay dividends in the long run,” Thomas said.

“People respected what he did and how he did it,” added Thomas, who put photos of his father in various places around the establishment.

While the pictures give the place a personal touch, another wall hanging – a pink neon sign in the shape of a cat – recalls a chapter of Fargo bar history.

The sign is one of several that once glowed outside the Pink Pussy Cat Lounge before that downtown watering hole was torn down to make room for a parking lot.

Thomas said he bought the sign from Mario Olivieri, owner of Josef’s School of Hair Design. Thomas said Olivieri agreed to sell the sign because he felt it was a work of art and deserved to be seen by many.

Thomas, who briefly toyed with the idea of reviving the name Pink Pussy Cat Lounge for his own business, said the light-emitting feline is popular with patrons. Many have their pictures taken beside it.

Thomas said another thing customers love is the menu, which he described as traditional bar food blended with less common offerings such as quiche and a strawberry pecan salad Thomas compares to the experience of eating a strawberry sundae.

He said the hand-breaded boneless chicken wings are also popular, as is a blueberry BBQ sauce invented by the restaurant’s chef, Mike Anderson.

“People are just raving about it,” Thomas said.

Besides its own menu, Frank’s Lounge has an affiliation with Spicy Pie, which shares the building with Frank’s Lounge and will deliver pizzas to its next-door neighbor.

“We close our kitchen at 10:30 at night, but patrons can still eat until we close,” Thomas said. “It works great for them and it works great for us.”

Thomas, whose home is only blocks from Frank’s Lounge, said one of the primary reasons he and his wife, Sue, opened the business was the dearth of dining and drinking options in the area.

“Since we’ve opened, I’ve had more people thanking me for bringing something to the neighborhood,” Thomas said.

“The people that we’ve been serving have really enjoyed not just the food and drink but the company and the friends they’re making,” Thomas said.