FARGO — After sitting empty for more than four years, a new restaurant and nightclub appears to be headed for the former JT Cigarro at 4554 Seventh Ave. S. in Fargo.
Francis Brown and Corey Schultz hope to open Africa International Restaurant and Night Club in the former bar and tobacco store sometime this summer. Brown has operated the Liberian Merry Go Round African Restaurant nearby since 2015. He plans to close that restaurant when the new location opens.
Brown said Africa International Restaurant and Night Club will serve dishes from Liberia, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea, Somalia, Sudan and America during the day and operate as a nightclub in the evening.
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The business partners have purchased a Class A liquor license previously held by the Olive Garden, according to Fargo City Auditor Steve Sprague. Olive Garden replaced its Class A license several years ago with a cheaper Class FA license, which requires food sales to eclipse liquor sales.
Dustin Coulter opened the original JT Cigarro in 1998 at 855 45th St. S. In 2009, it moved into the newly-constructed 5,700-square-foot multi-level bar and tobacco store.
After the statewide smoking ban took effect in December 2012, Coulter continued to allow patrons to smoke in the "members only" cigar bar, citing a "loophole" in the law. The move landed him in hot water with Fargo Cass Public Health and he sold the business to Barrett Prody shortly thereafter. Prody converted the former tobacco shop into a restaurant. The business closed two years later.