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Shooting for quality

PD's on First is coming to downtown Fargo and owner Paul Dobbins promises area carnivores will be happy. Dobbins is opening an upscale steakhouse in the former Sarajevo restaurant location at 612 1st Ave. N. When the renovation is done -- in late...

PD's on First is coming to downtown Fargo and owner Paul Dobbins promises area carnivores will be happy.

Dobbins is opening an upscale steakhouse in the former Sarajevo restaurant location at 612 1st Ave. N.

When the renovation is done -- in late September or early October -- Dobbins plans to serve prime, dry-aged beef he says will compare with Minneapolis favorites Ruth's Chris Steak House, Manny's Steakhouse and Murray's and its famed "Butterknife Steak."

"Murray's (quality). That's what we're shooting for," he said.

Dobbins is leasing the restaurant space. The business will seat about 80 people in three rooms. He expects to employ 28-30 people full and part time. Lunch will be served Monday through Friday and dinner Tuesday through Saturday.

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The bar has been removed from the main entrance, though PD's will serve beer, wine and "great martinis," he said.

"We're trying to bring in fine wines. Things we can get in Minneapolis, but we can't seem to get here," he said.

But the food will be the star, with a view from the reception area into the kitchen.

"The first thing and the last thing you'll see is the food," Dobbins said.

Dan Crow, the former food and beverage director at the Detroit Lakes (Minn.) Holiday Inn will be the restaurant's chef.

Assisting Crow will be his wife, Marites, who is also a chef with experience in the Philippines and Middle East.

"People I've talked to are very excited about us having a steakhouse here," Crow said, taking a break from scrubbing a walk-in freezer.

"Dan and I have been talking about it since we met," Dobbins said. "We feel confident about it right now. It's a great location."

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Dobbins has experience opening restaurants. The 37-year-old helped get Monte's Downtown off the ground as its general manager.

The Moorhead High School graduate started in the restaurant business in 1984 washing dishes. He later worked his way up to kitchen manager at Speak Easy in Moorhead and later worked at Grandma's in Fargo.

Crow, 47, has been in the food service business 30 years. Before working at the Holiday Inn, he was a kitchen manager and international corporate trainer for TGI Fridays in Florida.

He and his wife recently moved to Glyndon, Minn.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Dave Anderson, president of the Downtown Community Partnership. "It fills one of the gaps. As a bona fide steakhouse, I think it really adds to the selection.

"We have various ethnic opportunities. There's Italian, Bosnian, Chinese, Mexican. To have a good American steakhouse to add to the mix, I think, is just really delightful."

The new PD's has no connection with the P.D.'s Restaurant that used to be in Elm Tree Square at 114 Broadway. That eatery was originally Elm Tree Terrace and was renamed in 1979 by Gordon and Treva Stalcup.

The restaurant changed hands again in 1989, becoming Elm Tree Fine Foods. In 1994, it became the Outbound Restaurant, which later closed.

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Dobbins and Crow will have a lot of competition in the area when it comes to steak bragging rights.

Fargo's West Acres area has three chain specialty steakhouses -- Timber Lodge Steakhouse, Outback Steakhouse and Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon. There are also local favorites, including Cork 'N Cleaver in south Fargo, Smoky's of West Fargo and Speedway (Dilworth and West Fargo). Plus, a slew of other restaurants with cooks that will bet they get rare to well done right every time.

That doesn't bother Dobbins.

"I think the market is big enough," he said. "I've seen the success Monte's has had and I'd like to build on that success. ... There's a good buzz downtown. If you want to go out to eat, you don't have to go out to West Acres anymore."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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