A 69-year-old Moorhead building that's been everything from a 3.2 beer bar to a drag-show venue will soon serve its next round of owners as The Brothers Table.
The Brothers Table plans to open the first stage of its business, catering healthy meals for child care centers, in three to four weeks at 1500 11th Street North in the building best known as Jerry's Bar, says Riley Aadland, who is launching the business with his older brother Nicholas. Over time, they plan to expand the venture to also include a take-and-bake homestyle meal service, a retail market with locally made products and grab-and-go lunches, and a community event center.
"What we really want to build and focus on is finding a fresh, locally sourced farm-to-table concept in dining options, while also providing a fun, welcoming environment for people in the local community," says Riley.
Riley's day job is working as an applications engineer for RMS Roller Grinder, a Sioux Falls, S.D., company that manufactures equipment for agricultural and brewery use. Nicholas, who studied history at Minnesota State University Moorhead, is a renovation pro who flips properties for a living and resides in Moorhead.
While it might seem unusual for a house-flipper and an engineer to enter the food business, Riley says they were motivated by a strong belief in making fresh, wholesome, locally-sourced foods available to the public. Nicholas's wife, Heather, runs a child care, so they saw the need for a service that could deliver healthy, fresh, convenient meals to children. The brothers also want to be a solution for families who aspire to eat healthier, but are too busy to cook. The cooking and kitchen expertise will actually come from Julie Walsh, the chef behind the Detroit Deli Food Truck in Fargo.
"We are very self-aware," Riley says. "We realize we don't necessarily have the cooking background, so we rely on that connection."
Riley says the Moorhead Business Association has been especially helpful in connecting them with community partners, including Walsh.
“It’s sometimes serendipitous how we’ve connected with people,” Riley says, explaining that Walsh had already been thinking about the Jerry’s location before being contacted by the Aadlands a week later.
Reviving a Moorhead landmark
Riley says they chose the Jerry's location for a few reasons. One was that they liked the idea of establishing a quick, healthy alternative in a part of the city where food options are mainly limited to convenience stores.
Another was that the building, first opened in 1960 as Jerry's Trail Tavern by Jerry and Vera Jean Keogh, has become a north Moorhead landmark. The business was owned by the Keogh family until 2017, when it was sold. The new owners operated it as Jerry's Original Music Club and improved the structure with new flooring, an expanded stage and new windows. However, it closed five months after opening, when owners said the venture "wasn't working out financially."
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“We really love the area,” Riley says. “We like the idea of taking something that so many people have good memories of and rejuvenating it and turning it into a spot where people can come together and enjoy each other's company, especially in a world that’s so divided these days.”
Riley says the structure is old and needed to be cleared of some unwanted fixtures and junk. However, once they cleared out the building, they were encouraged to learn it was in better shape than they’d anticipated.
Right now, Nicholas is spending long days renovating the commercial kitchen to serve the catering arm of the business, while bringing in other contractors for specialized projects. Riley will provide the financial expertise. He estimates they will use about 1,500 square feet of the 6,500-square-foot structure for the kitchen and market, with the remaining space devoted to an event venue.
Once the kitchen is completed, Riley says they will focus on the market area, where customers can pick up deli sandwiches and homestyle meal specials, such as meatloaf and mashed potatoes. This same type of comforting fare - made from local, whole foods - will constitute their take-and-bake dinners. “We’d like to take some of that pressure off families and give people some of their time back,” Riley says.
They hope to also devote part of the market area to local products,such as honey, jellies or organic oats. They’ve also considered renting the commercial kitchen to cottage businesses which are looking for an inspected and approved kitchen space.
The final stage of their venture will be an event center, which could accommodate any event that could use a stage and bar area: wedding receptions, family gatherings, reunions, dinner theaters or open mic nights.
“We’re opening in stages so we can make sure we’re not going to release a new stage until we’re doing the existing part of the business well,” Riley says.