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Tough labor market blamed for closure of Fargo and Bismarck Johnny Carino's restaurants

"It's just hard to find people" to run the operations, an employee for the ownership group said.

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Johnny Carino's in south Fargo abruptly closed on Sept. 13. The Bismarck location shuttered its doors Sept. 25.
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FARGO - A second North Dakota Johnny Carino’s Italian restaurant has gone out of business in less than two weeks, thanks to a tough labor market.

The Bismarck Carino’s at 1601 W. Century Ave. permanently closed its doors Sunday, Sept. 25.

The Fargo Carinos closed its doors at 4410 17th Ave. S. on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Both restaurants are owned by Prairie Pasta, Inc., of Sioux Falls, S.D.

An employee of the restaurant group, who declined to be named, said it came down to retaining enough staff.

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“It was just all staffing, it’s just hard to find people,” the employee said. “We had several managers that gave notice, and it was just too hard to keep going.”

The Fargo closure announcement was abrupt.

"Carino's Fargo will be closing permanently as of Sept. 13th, 2022. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause," read a post on the restaurant's Facebook page Sept. 13.

The Bismarck Carino’s Facebook announcement, which ran Saturday and Sunday, thanked customers for their support and offered help with reimbursing unused gift cards.

“Good evening! We wanted to thank everybody for all of their support over the years. All the great staff that has worked here and all the amazing guests that have come and made all of this possible over the years! A special thank you to the staff that stuck around right till the very end! We are officially permanently closed,” the announcement by the parent company said. “If you have any gift cards left for Carino’s in Bismarck or Fargo. Please mail your gift cards to our home office. They will check your balance and issue a check for a refund.”

Those cards can be sent to: Johnny Carino’s, 4101 S. Carnegie Place, Sioux Falls S.D. 57106.

Both of the former Carino’s restaurant buildings have been listed for sale on the LoopNet real estate website.

The Fargo building is priced at $1,950,000 . The 7,364-square-foot building was built in 2004.

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The Bismarck building is also listed at $1,950,000 . The 7,113-square-foot building was built in 2006.

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The Fargo Carino’s opened nearly 20 years ago at 4410 17th Ave. S.W. in Fargo. As a measure of its popularity, just two years ago, readers voted Johnny Carino's the Best Italian Restaurant in The Forum's annual Best of the Red River Valley issue.

Johnny Carino’s is based in Austin, Texas, where it was founded in 1968.

It has been owned and operated by Fired Up Restaurant Concepts since 1997. The company’s website lists 38 locations in the United States, which are either owned by Fired Up or franchised.

The closest Johnny Carino’s for North Dakota or Minnesota residents is in Sioux Falls.

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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