FARGO - A half-hour before its official opening, it was controlled chaos at CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar.

Waiters and waitresses scurried about the 8,000 square feet of the upscale casual restaurant, setting out place settings and giving tables and chairs a final wipedown, even as construction workers scrambled to finish off last-minute punch list items Tuesday, Oct. 29.

General Manager John McDonald watched as a panel was glued to a support column near the kitchen, while technicians finished mounting flat-screen TVs by the bar.

A signature wine tower won’t show up until Thursday.

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But there will be no waiting for it.

It was “Go Day.”

“She’s a beauty,” McDonald said of the restaurant, decorated in shades of brown, red, cream; the bare struts and HVAC piping of the industrial look ceiling painted matte black.

John McDonald, general manager of CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar, stands Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in the dining room of the newly opened restaurant on the east side of the West Acres mall.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
John McDonald, general manager of CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar, stands Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in the dining room of the newly opened restaurant on the east side of the West Acres mall. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

“It’s the energy involved. As you can see there’s a lot of mayhem and business. You can call it chaos,” McDonald said, proud of his new staff. “We’re all in this together kind of spirit. You are truly able to build a culture from the ground up.”

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It was a summer and fall full of challenges to get the restaurant open, both in getting the restaurant completed and in hiring and training new employees, said CRAVE COO Dave Sincebaugh.

“We’re ready to go! We’ve been here all sorts of hours the last couple of weeks,” Sincebaugh said. “A lot of long hours.”

The last couple days have included mock serving sessions for the cooks, bar- and waitstaff to test their skills before opening the doors to the general public.

“Everybody’s done fantastic. We’re ready to go. Enough training, you know,” Sincebaugh said. "We really just want to get open."

Executive sous chef Wilson Satelo, from right, talks to Darnell Petschen and Brandon Scholin about opening-day preparations Tuesday, Oct. 29, at CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar at West Acres in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Executive sous chef Wilson Satelo, from right, talks to Darnell Petschen and Brandon Scholin about opening-day preparations Tuesday, Oct. 29, at CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar at West Acres in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The first two customers were Dave and Connie Jarrett of Moorhead, who were seated and going through their menus just after 11 a.m.

“When we go to the Cities, I go there at least once,” Dave Jarrett said.

He and Connie were thinking of salads for their lunch, but he’s well aware of CRAVE’s reputation for sushi.

“My friends love the sushi here,” he said. “The sushi boats here are great.”

The menu at CRAVE includes a range of sushi, nigiri and sashimi offerings, as well as burgers, steaks, seafood and pasta.

There are also a couple pages of for vegetarians, vegans, and those who are gluten sensitive.

The Fargo restaurant is the 11th CRAVE for Twin Cities-based Kinkaid Hospitality. Eight of those restaurants are in the Twin Cities, with the other two in Sioux Falls, S.D., and Sioux City, Iowa.

Kaskaid Hospitality also manages a BLVD Kitchen & Bar, and owns a Cowboy Jacks and Burger Burger at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., Urban Eatery and the Piggy Bank eatery and music venue in Uptown Minneapolis, Brit’s Pub and the Union Restaurant and Rooftop in Minneapolis, CRAVE Catering, and Quincy Hall and Muse Event Center in Minneapolis.

Bartender Rollins Urugbezi prepares for opening day Tuesday, Oct. 29, at CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar at West Acres in Fargo.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Bartender Rollins Urugbezi prepares for opening day Tuesday, Oct. 29, at CRAVE American Kitchen & Sushi Bar at West Acres in Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

CRAVE is the first restaurant in The District, which is envisioned as a cluster of restaurants and “experiences” to fill 30,000 square feet of space leftover after Best Buy took up much of the old Sears store.

When The District was announced a year ago, West Acres Development’s chief executive Brad Schlossman said it was envisioned as a home to four to five restaurants. Including the fit-up costs for the already operating Best Buy, Schlossman said he expected the total investment to be $15 million to $20 million.

McDonald promises CRAVE will be a treat for diners.

“We’re bringing some elevated casual cuisine. And we’re bringing some that we feel is new to Fargo,” McDonald said.

A couple people in a party may opt for sushi, while others may seek out steak, seafood or pasta, he said.

“We’re making it all inclusive. And it’s more than just eating out. It’s an experience. As you can see, we put together this beautiful restaurant. We have high-quality food and we have high-quality service as well.”

McDonald said CRAVE brings “a passion” to food that residents and visitors to the Fargo-Moorhead area will appreciate.

“It’s elegant cuisine,” McDonald said. “It’s casual, yet approachable.”

CRAVE is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.