FARGO - The Taco Shop is ready to feed downtown Fargo.

Owner Troy Thomson says the newest “Home of the Grinder” at 117 Broadway N. opens 7 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26.

The 2,700-square-foot storefront will be the biggest of the three fast-casual Mexican restaurants he has in Fargo.

“This one is just a nice size for a quick service” with “seating for a little over 80,” Thomson said Monday, Feb. 24, as workers finished cleaning the Broadway-facing plate glass windows and adding some advertising.

Additions for this taco haven include build-your-own burritos, plus 20 varieties of domestic and imported beer, margaritas, daiquiris and fresh smoothies. Thomson doesn’t have wine available yet, but he said it’s coming.

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“It’s a little bit different from the other Taco Shops,” he said. “I’m very familiar with the downtown (Fargo) market and everything that’s being revitalized down here. It’s just a great fit with my vision for the Taco Shops, when I bought them in May (2019), to make them into something like this.”

Thomson said the 1,200-square-foot South University Drive store and the 2,400-square-foot North University Drive store will also get some of the expanded offerings in coming months.

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The downtown shop was once home to a Sweeto Burrito, which closed for renovations in 2017 and never reopened. Thompson opted to cut the space, keeping little beyond the professional hood and plumbing in the kitchen and the walk-in cooler.

It now has a clean, modern look, with reclaimed wood on the walls and recycled tin signage. The heavy-duty, high-seating tables and chairs were made locally by Cody Parr of True Craft Properties.

“I just wanted something unique to go with the reclaimed wood,” Thomson said of the custom furniture. Six 55-inch flat screen televisions offer diners some entertainment.

He built out this store with the aim of making it comfortable for the younger demographic that lives and goes to school downtown, as well as for the area’s office and construction workers.

“I wanted to make it a little different from the standard quick service,” he said.

When the weather warms, he plans to tear out the plate glass windows that now front Broadway and replace them with an overhead door that can be opened up when it’s warm “Getting the outside in and inside out” feeling, he said.

 The new Taco Shop location at 117 Broadway N. in downtown Fargo will open on Wednesday, Feb. 26. David Samson / The Forum
The new Taco Shop location at 117 Broadway N. in downtown Fargo will open on Wednesday, Feb. 26. David Samson / The Forum

Thomson grew up in Moorhead and has been a fixture in the area’s restaurant scene for years. He purchased the Taco Shops from Shirley Johnson, the widow of Paul Johnson, who had owned the restaurants for 29 years.

The first Taco Shop opened in 1961 on 13th Street North in Fargo with a five-item menu, sticking to basics such as tacos, tostadas and grinders.

Thomson’s resume includes being a multi-shop franchisee for 11 years with Extreme Pita and a partner in the Moorhead Crave Burger outlet. (He still has a Crave in Minot, N.D.) In addition, he co-owned the 9 Iron Bar & Grill at Fargo’s Osgood Golf Course from 2011 to 2014.

He is also owner and president of Elite Food Service and Management, which supplies food services to several area firms, including the US Bank Call Center and Swanson Health Products in Fargo, Red River Recovery Center in Dilworth, Minn., and the Bobcat plant in Gwinner, N.D.

Jeremy Markey will be the new Taco Shop's general manager. Most of the staff has been trained at the other two Taco Shops and they’ll get a chance to acclimate to their workplace Tuesday as they prepare food for Wednesday’s opening, Thomson said.

The shop will be open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

“Wednesday will be a fun time,” Thomson said.