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JoJo's Italian restaurant planned for former Tru Blu Social Club in West Fargo

The "refined casual" eatery is expected to open in mid-August, a co-owner said.

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The former Tru Blu Social Club in West Fargo is being remodeled to become a JoJo's Italian restaurant. Plans are to have the restaurant at 915 19th Ave. E. open in mid-August. (Rendering courtesy of Canvas &Trowel)

WEST FARGO - The former Tru Blu Social Club is being transformed into an Italian restaurant and is expected to open by mid-August, the ownership group Eclectic Culinary Concepts said in an exclusive to The Forum Thursday, June 3.

JoJo’s, at 915 19th Ave. E., will be a “refined casual” Italian eatery, able to accommodate special events such as engagements and anniversaries, or patrons coming straight from a baseball field, according to Tyge Nelson, the chef-partner for the restaurant.

The JoJo’s menu is still being finalized, but it will include eight sections: polenta boards, starters, Detroit-style pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts. Nelson said the quality of the ingredients and flavors will set the restaurant apart.

“We are putting care back into Italian-American food,” Nelson said. “It’s become so ubiquitous that it’s lost a lot of the nuance and character that made it great in the first place. We want to change that. We’re stressing technique and quality ingredients to elevate the flavors and our guests’ overall dining experience.”

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JoJo's in West Fargo will have a marketplace area called JoJo’s to Go Go, dedicated to take-out service and take-and-bake items. (Rendering courtesy of Canvas & Trowel)

JoJo’s will also have a marketplace, JoJo’s to Go Go, dedicated to take-out service and take-and-bake items. It will have its own entrance and dedicated parking area to make it convenient to pick up pizzas or pastas, and grab-and-go items.

The restaurant space is being redesigned from floor to ceiling. Only the massive horseshoe bar from the former Tru Blu will look familiar to guests when JoJo’s opens.

The restaurant will accommodate about 100 guests in the bar area and 100 in the dining room.

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Plans also call for redesigning the restaurant’s lower level for private events. However, that space is not expected to be completed until sometime after JoJo’s opens.
The space is being designed by Tracy Anderson, owner of Wayzata, Minn.- based Canvas & Trowel design studios.

Anderson plans to display several images of the restaurant’s namesake, Josephine Gagliani Lucido. She was a Sicilian immigrant, renowned cook and grandmother of Megan Hesse, the wife of another ECC co-owner Stephan Hesse.

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An interior view of JoJo's Italian restaurant, expected to open in mid-August in the former Tru Blu Social Club space in West Fargo. (Rendering courtesy of Canvas & Trowel)

“From top to bottom, our intent is to create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for a planned night out or a quick bite,” Anderson said. “The space’s design will lighten and brighten the space to compliment what’s on your plate, not overpower it.”

Tru Blu first opened in August 2017, but had been closed since mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tru Blu and Fargo’s Lucky’s 13 Pub were among 11 restaurants acquired by Twin Cities-based Eclectic Culinary Concepts. The purchase was announced in late January of this year and financial details of the transaction were not released.

The acquisition included Lucky’s 13 Pub locations in Bloomington, Burnsville, Mendota, Plymouth, and Roseville, Minn, Bismarck, N.D., and the Fargo restaurant at 4301 17th Ave. S.; a former Rudy’s Redeye Grill in Rosemount, Minn.; Yankee Tavern in Eagan, Minn; Tru Blu; and Me & Julio in Hastings, Minn.

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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