Popular Moorhead summer eatery loses franchise, but owners vow to come back next spring 'bigger and better'
The Tastee Freez will close for the season Sunday, Sept. 28. When it returns next spring, it will have a new name and concept.
MOORHEAD -- It's been a tough season for the Tastee Freez, a popular summer eatery in Moorhead.
Owners were hoping for a fresh start after construction on the 20th/21st Street railroad underpass severely limited access to the restaurant last year, but then came COVID. It, like other bars and restaurants, was forced to alter operations in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.
Then, in July, vandals caused extensive damage to the restaurant at 410 19th St. S.. They broke windows, damaged the roof and broke a compressor, which forced them to destroy everything in their coolers.
The community rallied around the restaurant, raising nearly $30,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to help with repairs.
Unfortunately, another blow would soon follow.
Co-owner Jessica Malvin told The Forum Friday night, Sept. 25, that she recently learned they will be unable to renew their Tastee Freez franchise. According to the Tastee Freez website, there are just a handful of the standalone restaurants left in the U.S.
But the latest blow won't keep them down. Malvin maintains they'll be back next spring "bigger and better" and under a new name.
"Next year will be the start of my 19th season, so it's going to be the same faces," she said. "A few menu items will change, but for the most part we'll be the same."
One thing that will be different is the exterior of the restaurant. Malvin said once they close for the season Sunday, Sept. 28th, they will finish up the repairs from the break-in earlier this summer.
"We have to do repairs on the roof, and with that we're looking at just tearing down the part that was badly damaged and starting over," she said.
Malvin said the No. 1 downside is losing the signature Tastee Freez ice cream, but that they are actively looking for something similar.
The one positive, Malvin said, is that the restaurant will now be 100% locally-owned.
"We'll be 100% local then. All of our money will stay local," she said.
Malvin and her business partner Jessica Verdi took over the Tastee Freez in 2019 from Duane "Dr. Freeze" and Fern Elofson , who had run the shop since 1991.
The Tastee Freez will open at noon Sunday and close once they have sold out their inventory. Watch their Facebook page for updates.