FARGO - It’s time to cowboy up at Cowboy Jack’s.
Downtown Fargo’s newest bar and restaurant appears to have gotten a good start since opening Monday, Sept. 9.
“People are coming in and they’re excited to check it out. They love the upstairs,” owner Dave Erickson said Wednesday, Sept. 11, as kitchen and bar staff cleaned and prepped for the 11 a.m. opening. “They’re liking the food; they’re liking the specials.”
The cowboy-themed 8,500-square-foot bar and restaurant at 506 Broadway gives a shout-out to places and people of Wild West legend in neon and stenciled on tables. Deadwood. Tombstone. The OK Corral. (Buffalo Bill) Cody.
“It’s a big space .. but I feel comfortable with how it’s going,” Erickson said.
While some Cowboy Jack’s have mechanical bulls, the Fargo resident opted to go with a second floor stage for entertainment instead. He expects to have bands playing sometime in the next month.
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There are lots of booths and tables, and plenty of seating on the large rooftop patio, which has been a big draw early on. The patio features a fireplace, hanging strings of lights and nice views of downtown, including the Block 9 building rising into the sky to the south. Across the street is the historic Ford Building and a little farther east is the Great Northern depot.
Cowboy Jack’s also has plenty of room to belly up to the bar. The ground floor bar stretches more than 50 feet, and the second floor bar is nearly three-quarters that length.
Casey Hillebrand is already a big Cowboy Jack's fan.
"I love this place," Hillebrand said as he headed toward the door Wednesday after finishing work downtown. "It has an awesome patio. I'll probably make this my spot for an after-work stop. I've been anxiously waiting for this place to open."
But while Erickson wants Cowboy Jack’s to be a good place for adults to relax and perhaps watch a ballgame - it has 19 big-screen TVs - he is also aiming for it to be an all-ages place where a family can stop for lunch or supper.
“I felt that was something that was lacking a little bit in downtown,” Erickson said. “Hopefully we fill that niche. Be that spot in the neighborhood a little bit.”
Cowboy Jack's offers a broad selection of appetizers, including walleye fingers, cheddar brats, quesadillas, potato skins, and Sloppy Jacks. The rest of the menu is filled out with plenty of American and regional favorites. The eatery boasts of having top-flight burgers, steaks and chicken wings, pizzas, sandwiches, wraps and tator tot hotdish.
Among the specials are $2 Sloppy Jack’s sandwiches on Mondays, a two-pound $7 bucket of wings on Tuesdays, and $2 half-pound burgers on Wednesdays, Erickson said.
At 35, Erickson is already an old hand in the Fargo-Moorhead bar and restaurant scene. He started Dave’s Southside Tap in Moorhead 13 years ago, right after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship from the University of St. Thomas. He has since sold that business.
He also opened Hennessy’s Irish Pub and The Bulldog Tap in southwest Fargo and the Red Hen Tap House in Dilworth, Minn. He closed Hennessy’s in January, reusing some of its equipment for Cowboy Jack’s.
Erickson got his first exposure to the Cowboy Jack’s brand in the Twin Cities and he liked the concept.
He’s one of the early franchise owners of a Cowboy Jack’s, which falls under the corporate umbrella of the Twin Cities-based After Midnight Group.
“What drew me to Cowboy Jack’s was that they try to hit every time slot of the day, whether it’s lunch, happy hour, late night, even brunch on weekends,” Erickson said. “I feel like they show a good product as far as food” and atmosphere, he said.
Enclave Development owns the two story building, which was formerly occupied by McNeal & Friends, a furniture boutique and interior design store, which has since moved to 3265 45th St. S.
Enclave was in charge of adding the first-floor addition that includes the kitchen, the entrance and much of the dining area, as well as the rooftop patio, Erickson said. The work was started in September of 2018 and had been expected to be completed by mid-August, but some “unique challenges” arose, delaying opening a few weeks.
“We knew construction was going to be a long time. It was kind of unique project” with adding a new addition to a 100-year-old structure, Erickson said.
Surprisingly, being right next to the railroad track hasn’t been a minus.
“It fits, honestly. It’s fun when the train comes by …. I think people enjoy it. I know kids enjoy it,” Erickson said.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday
The full kitchen is open until midnight every day, and pizzas and flatbreads are made up until 1:30 a.m.
Charitable gaming is run by the North Dakota Association for the Disabled. They offer pull tabs and blackjack.
Erickson has the franchise rights for North Dakota and South Dakota, but said he hasn’t made plans to open another Cowboy Jack’s soon. “Walking before we run,” he said.
In the meantime, he is counting on Cowboy Jack’s to add some life to the north end of downtown.
“It is going to change where people start to think of downtown, expand the footprint a bit,” Erickson said.