Restaurants seeing little spike in takeout sales after stricter orders were put in place

Michael Moran, the owner of Twenty Below Coffee Co., brews two fresh pots of coffee during the morning rush Saturday, Nov. 28. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

FARGO — Most mornings at Twenty Below Coffee Co., drivers filter in and out of the parking lot to pick up their brews and treats.

Michael Moran, one of the coffee shop's owners, said this kind of traffic has been steady for the past couple of months.

"During the summer it slowed down a little bit, but once again now, COVID numbers in the area are rising, so it's really helped (takeout sales)," he said.

Twenty Below's spot in downtown Fargo only seats up to 10 people at a time, which Moran said has been driving more to switch to curbside pickup and in-and-out ordering.

Over at Blackbird Woodfire, they've switched to doing takeout only, a move the restaurant made before the statewide mask mandate was implemented in North Dakota.


Casey Absey, the owner of Blackbird Woodfire, spreads sauce over raw pizza dough. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

Casey Absey, the owner and manager at Blackbird, said takeout sales have been going strong after the mandate was put in place, and also saw a spike after the restaurant's recent appearance on the Food Network show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."

"We're not breaking any records or anything, but it's paying the bills," he said. "I haven't had to lay anybody off, which is my goal."

When they first had to close to in-person dining in March, Absey said he had to do some re-tooling to his menu to keep up with the competition.

He believes that first shutdown has helped him get a leg up this time around, despite several restaurants still keeping their doors open to dine-in customers.

"Everybody was doing takeout (in March), so it was even across the field, but there's still a lot of restaurants that are dine-in (now), and if people have the option, they're going to do dine-in," Absey said.

Back at Twenty Below, they're starting to put the pieces together for an additional new spot in Moorhead, and Moran believes although crossing the state line is risky, he's happy to start serving a new community.


"Starting to sell coffee and pastries and things on this side of the river, I think, is really going to help us out as a business," he said.

While both restaurants are keeping their options limited for now, both Absey and Moran said they're hoping to see more people have a seat at the table, and not in their cars.

Twenty Below's Moorhead location will open for drive-thru only in mid-December, and Absey hopes to welcome dine-in customers back to Blackbird sometime next year.

Tanner Robinson is a producer for First News on WDAY-TV.
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