Usher's House to embrace new dining concept, remodel interior
Co-owner Nathan Sauvageau said the fine dining restaurant, which has been temporarily closed since March 16, will be altering it's price point and menu options, focusing on tapas and other small plate options.
MOORHEAD — Once the COVID-19 pandemic allows, patrons of downtown Moorhead's Usher's House can expect a revamped interior and new dining concept, according to co-owner Nathan Sauvageau.
"Our timeline is a little unknown with the current climate of COVID-19 and restrictions the state has imposed, which right now make it difficult to operate," Sauvageau said. "We are looking at transforming the space into more of a social club atmosphere."
Sauvageau said the fine dining restaurant, which has been temporarily closed since March 16, will be altering it's price point and menu options, focusing on tapas and other small plate options. To maintain quality and continuity, Usher's House will retain its current Executive Chef Cary Carr and General Manager Cody Miler.
The atmosphere, Sauvageau said, will change from its current contemporary look. "We're going to kind of soften the space up a little bit from its modern design," he said, including the use of more "branding elements." Usher's House moved to its current location at the intersection of 8th St. S. and Main Ave. in May of 2019 . The eatery had previously been located at 701 1st Ave. N.
Unlike most other restaurants in the Fargo-Moorhead area, Usher's House was unable to shift to delivery or take-out dining because "the finer food doesn't travel very well," Sauvageau said. The restaurant also lost much of its food supply-chain, especially its smaller, high-end meat vendors.
Capacity limitations further curtailed re-opening efforts. "Restrictions of 50% of capacity are one thing, but the further restriction of six feet apart and things like that left us with about a quarter capacity," Sauvageau said. Additionally, an anticipated loss in traffic from its older patrons resulted in Usher's House opting not to re-open.
A loss in catering revenue, which came primarily from weddings and Jade Presents events at the Bluestem Center for the Arts, was the driving force behind the decision to pursue its new format, Sauvageau explained. Catering accounted for 60% of the restaurant's business.
"We kind of got hit on all sides," he said.
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Sauvageau didn't indicate when the overhauled Usher's House would make its debut but said the restaurant could be ready within three weeks, presuming COVID-19 restrictions would allow. "We're letting the government dictate the timeline right now," he said. "It seems like they keep moving the goalposts a little bit, but we understand that cases are on the rise and public safety is number one."
For now, the focus is on refining the new menu and interior. "We're doing our best with my other businesses to maintain and take our time to develop and come out with a good product when we're safe and able to," Sauvageau said.