Altony's Italian Cafe reopening in new Holiday Mall location

Owner Ryan Alford aims to open the doors for fans of his lasagna, spice alfredo and other pasta favorites on Thursday, May 13.

Altony’s owner Ryan Alford talks Tuesday, May 11, 2021, about re-opening the restaurant Thursday at 800 Holiday Dr. Suite 176, Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

MOORHEAD - Ryan Alford is ready to get out of the construction business and back into the restaurant business.

The owner of Altony’s Italian Cafe was feverishly working Tuesday, May 11, to prepare to reopen in his new location at 800 Holiday Drive (the spot formerly occupied by Little Caesars).

The doors will open at 11 a.m. Thursday, May 13, he said.

“It’s been a long journey,” he said. “It feels a lot better. I’m ready to start cooking again.”


Altony’s owner Ryan Alford talks Tuesday, May 11, 2021, about remodeling the kitchen at the restaurant's new location at 800 Holiday Dr. Suite 176, Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

He’s down a few seats to 78, but the restaurant is brighter, he said. The walls are covered with vintage photos he saved from the previous restaurant.

“As much as I could save from the other place,” Alford said. “I put a few touches on it. It doesn’t look like a Little Caesars anymore.”

The dining room of Altony's Italian Cafe will seat 78. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

He hasn’t cut anything from his previous menu, he said, counting 10 appetizers, 17 pasta dishes, six sandwiches, four gluten-free dishes, salads, desserts. He’ll also have beer and wine.


His signature dishes remain his spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and spicy alfredo.
“I didn’t really change much,” Alford said.


Alford learned expensive lessons in the move and his patience was tested.

Alford’s last day in his former location, a now-razed Taco Bell in the EasTen Shopping Center, was October 27. He had gotten a 30-day notice from his landlord to move. (The land has since been converted to a car wash.)

He scrambled to find a new place.

Altony's Italian Cafe is seen at 800 Holiday Dr. Suite 176, Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

“I wanted to stay in Moorhead,” he said. “People are friendly over here in Moorhead” and “I was already established here.”

He hit upon the vacant Little Caesars, but it was stripped and required a total refit.

New plumbing, electrical hookups. An expensive new hood and other restaurant equipment had to be purchased. Walls had to be built. The cost ran into many tens of thousands of dollars he said.


A winter storm on the East Coast delayed shipment of his $40,000 hood. The COVID-19 pandemic caused delays in the supply chain that forced changes in scheduling contractors.

“Christmas time, I was like, I don’t want to do it anymore,” he said. “It’s been quite a struggle.”

He said he’s gotten a lot of help from individual business people and the Moorhead Business Association.

“They’ve been right there with me, keeping my faith alive” through the hardest times, Alford said.

Alford grew up in Monroe and West Monroe, La., then spent 18 years in Oklahoma before coming to the Fargo-Moorhead area. He had been working at an Applebee's, when one of his former managers convinced him to join Altony’s in 2012.

Not long after, he became a manager, and eventually bought the restaurant in early 2018. At the time, the landlord wanted him to sign a five-year lease. He wasn’t ready for the commitment. In hindsight, maybe a mistake, he said.


“That’s what I got for living and learning and not signing a five-year lease,” Alford said.

Now he’s back to making marinara, meatballs, sausage and lasagna, and he’s booking catering gigs for weddings and graduations.

“I miss cooking and service more than I want to do remodeling,” he said. “I’d much rather cook than do construction.”

And frankly, it’s time to make some money after paying so much out.

“People got to come and eat, share the love,” he said.

There will be drive-through service for people who order ahead, and take-out. He’s still in the process of choosing a delivery service.

But he’s happier.

“I want to thank Moorhead for sticking in there and hanging with me,” Alford said.

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