The old Fargo Cafe still has its fans, even though it has been closed for years.
A column about it some time ago led many to write in about their memories of it.
Fred Quam, Fargo, sent a picture of it taken from a 1950s postcard.
Fred says the cafe was opened in 1922 at 65 Broadway by brothers Wing Dew Wong and Quong Wong. It was operated by Wong family members at the same location until 1966. It featured both Chinese and American food.
“I went there several times while growing up in Fargo,” Fred writes. “I remember the food was very good.”
Other cafes come to mind, too. Betty Lien, Fargo, writes, “I ate at the Times Cafe. It had Chinese owners. It was on the north side of the Fargo Theater and on the south side was the Up Town Cafe. I ate at the Times in my teenage years, around 1954 and 1955. I had burgers and fries and hot beef sandwiches; good food. I remember one of the girls that worked there; her name was Dolores.”
Bud Kipp, Edgeley, N.D., writes that he remembers the Fargo Cafe. He also remembers what he believes was the Nankin Cafe on Front Street, Fargo, which he and his brother and friends frequented while in college.
“Also, a trip over to Dilworth to the Venice Garden; that was a popular spot,” Bud says.
Going back to the Fargo Cafe, Harriet Holler, Fargo, writes, “One of my sisters-in-law worked there in the late ‘40s. My family ate there almost every trip to Fargo. It had the best roast beef sandwiches we ever had. My family always remarked on it.
“We also enjoyed the Herbst cafeteria,” Harriet adds.
Gary Meyer, Fargo, writes, “My mother was a waitress at the Fargo Cafe during the mid- to late ‘40s. She was a young mother, and my dad was off to war in the service.
“She would often tell me stories about the kindness of the Chinese owners and how great they treated her.
“She said Mr. Wong gave me my first ice cream cone,” Gary says. “He got a big kick out of it, because I had ice cream all over my face. I don’t remember it, though, as I was probably only a year old.”
Gary adds that he is a “lifelong Fargo boy who has been roaming the streets of Fargo since the early ‘50s.
“Having attended grade school on the south side, junior high school on the north side, and high school in West Fargo, I got to know just about every kid my age in the area and out of the area.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in Fargo/West Fargo over the years and remember many of the old hangouts as well.”
Carol Zieman writes, “I lived in Oakes, N.D., (and she still does) and during the summer while attending college, I worked at the ASC office in Fargo. But I decided to take an extra job and was employed at the Fargo Cafe.
“It was a fantastic job. I learned a lot about people in general… made friends with fellow workers… .and I cannot say enough about the Chinese owners of the cafe. Especially Ming. He was so special and always explained about the origin of the foods they served, which was fantastic. And the cooks were always so congenial to us workers.”
Rodney Nelson, Fargo, writes that the Fargo Cafe “served as a winter drop-in for the overlapping egghead and serious music cliques I belonged to at Fargo Central High. Chinese-born Larry Wong, a year ahead ahead of me in school, worked there and would come and join us in our booth.”
Larry, by the way, played violin in the high school symphony orchestra and Rodney played one of the two clarinets.
“Waiting for rehearsals to begin,” Rodney says, “Larry would create wild improvisations. Maestro Harlow Berquist made sure he stuck to the printed score once business got underway.
“Larry moved to Phoenix and established a good life. He died in 2008.”
Going back to the cafe, Rodney said “The Wongs were tolerant of our often prolonged ‘cafe squatting’ and let us eye their pretty waitresses ad libitum.” (“Admittedly,” Rodney adds, “to high school boys, all waitresses seemed attractive.”)
The Fargo Cafe closed in 1966, the same year Central High School burned, Rodney notes.
In closing this column, it should be noted that a woman left a message about the Fargo Cafe on Neighbors’ answering machine, but this writer couldn’t pick up her name. But she was heard to say she and a friend still talk about eating at the Fargo Cafe years ago, and that “it had the best chow mein they’ve eaten anywhere, then or since.”
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.