New downtown Fargo restaurant to switch focus to gourmet hotdogs
Tundra Grill owner Jessica Torres says that, quite frankly, this is what downtown Fargo needs.
FARGO — No one can accuse Jessica Torres of dogging it when it comes to her determination to find a niche for her restaurant ambitions.
The owner of The Tundra Grill believes she’s sniffed out an opportunity for her tiny restaurant at 623 NP Ave., and she’s hoping customers will say “Hot dog!” when they see the changes.
Torres, who opened her brick and mortar shop just six weeks ago, plans to start serving gourmet hot dogs.
To be frank, it’s a serious pivot from her opening menu of soups, salads, tacos, wraps, nachos, prime rib phillies and other sandwiches. But she says she’s grown bored with that menu, which she’s cooked for years.
“I think Mexican food in Fargo is like a car wash - there’s too much of it,” Torres said Thursday, Feb. 23. “You need something in Fargo that sets you apart from everyone else.”
When she read a Facebook page for Fargo-Moorhead’s foodies, tasty hot dogs were the top-dog request of the members.
“I figured, let’s go this route,” Torres said. “I think it will be fun.”
If her distributor can supply the all-beef hot dogs Torres wants, she hopes to reopen the restaurant Monday, Feb. 27, and no later than Tuesday, with a hot dog-forward menu, complemented with a few soups, sandwiches and sides.
“I want to sell a good hot dog, I don’t want to sell any hot dog,” Torres said. “I don’t want people to say I can get this at Costco.”
In a Monday, Feb. 20, Facebook post, Torres issued a howl-out for her plan to serve local hot dog lovers.
“We are excited to announce we have taken a different direction in our menu. After asking people In the community what Fargo was missing, the common denominator was a good gourmet hot dog,” Torres said in the Facebook posts. “In the next two weeks our store will transition into a hotdog shop. I will post more information as it comes as well as our new menu and options for toppings.”
Torres said she’ll also move on from the Tundra Grill name for the eatery, though she hasn’t fully settled on the new name yet. Again, she’s turning to Facebook for input, though she's asking that the suggestions stay in the PG range.
“Something fun and creative. If you have any ideas to help us choose a great name just comment (on) them below,” a post to The Tundra Grill’s Facebook page says. “We can’t wait to get this up and in motion.”
Change has come without pause at The Tundra Grill since it opened in mid-Janauary.
The restaurant next to the Sushi Burrito and Pho D’elicious, fully opened Jan. 18, in the space formerly occupied by 623 Nutrition.
Before opening, Torres said she would look to attract the late-night bar crowd. Two weeks after opening, Torres said lunch would be on the menu.
“We have made an executive decision to start opening for lunches,” she said in a Jan. 31 Facebook message.
She’s been operating Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. according to the restaurant’s Facebook page. She said she will extend the hours, running 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. when she reopens.
Torres had taken a run at running late-night hours to capture the end of night bar rush, but those hours have been scratched - at least, for now - as it turns out that the late-night revelers in that area of downtown are more intent on grabbing a taxi, Lyft or Uber ride and getting home than looking for food.
The restaurant has been closed for a short time as she’s regrouped, she said. In the meantime, she’s also making changes to make the space more inviting for diners.
“I moved into it too fast to begin with,” Torres said. “I want to be ready to open this time.”
Torres started The Tundra Grill as a food truck, and she still has it. She wanted to bring the food truck’s flavors downtown, but her menu has been limited because the storefront doesn’t have a full kitchen with a hood.
Torres first tried a brick and mortar location for The Tundra Grill at The Bowler at 2630 S. University Drive in Fargo.
That iteration of grill opened April 1, 2021, operating out of the bowling alley and nightspot’s kitchen, but closed by mid-June of that year.
This go-around has been challenging, Torres said. She is also working another job at a bar in Harwood, North Dakota The rest of her time it is her and her son running the grill.
“I really haven’t had a lot of time to focus on my business,” Torres said. “This makes sense to us. And it’s something quick and it’s something easy. I think people will enjoy it.”