Owners of area Blarney Stone Pubs buy downtown Fargo's Hotel Donaldson

The 17-room boutique hotel will remain open throughout the purchase process. Owners hope to take possession in May and make changes needed for the Blarney Stone concept.

Jim Poolman stands in the Hotel Donaldson's barroom on Monday, March 14, 2022. He's president and managing partner of Slainte Holdings, the group that recently bought the hotel building in downtown Fargo.
Chris Flynn / The Forum
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FARGO — Faith and begorrah, the HoDo has new owners.

Fargo’s Hotel Donaldson has been purchased by the partners that own and operate the Blarney Stone Pubs in West Fargo, Bismarck and Sioux Falls.

“Our plan is to look at putting a Blarney Stone on the main floor of where the bar and restaurant is, and to operate the Hotel Donaldson … and really continue (current owner) Karen Stoker's vision of that property,” said Jim Poolman, president and managing partner of Slainte Holdings. (Slainte, which means "health," is an Irish equivalent of saying "cheers.")

"I'm so jazzed about it. It's going to be cool!" he said Monday, March 14. "Just driving up to it, it's so iconic."

Poolman, a former North Dakota state representative and insurance commissioner, called the hotel and its bar and restaurant “a showcase for downtown Fargo.”


Poolman said he and his partners in Slainte Holdings, Chad Wachter, president and CEO of Investcore, and orthodontist Dr. Dustin Hollevoet, both of Bismarck, are starting the process of transferring the liquor license this week.

The partners plan to take possession of the property by early May, then make the cosmetic changes to fit with the Blarney Stone name and concept with an eye toward reopening the bar and restaurant by this fall.

The restaurant will serve Irish and American food. Poolman said Blarney Stone Pubs normally offer a wide selection of beers and craft cocktails.

Downtown Fargo's Hotel Donaldson, 101 Broadway N., is seen Sunday, March 13, 2022. The iconic building, with its boutique hotel, bar and restaurants, is being purchased by Slainte Holdings.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

He said the exposed brick walls are beautiful and the partners will strive to maintain the integrity of the building, "but we certainly want an Irish pub feel to it as well."

Both the lounge/restaurant and a separate restaurant area will be used for the eatery. "Saturday and Sunday brunch here will knock it out of the park," he said.

The boutique hotel itself will remain Hotel Donaldson and be operated by the partners. Poolman is also a partner in a Hampton Inn and Suites in Bismarck. He said some people he's talked to didn't realize the hotel is still operating, so there will be a drive to market the hotel.

He declined to say what he and his partners paid for the property, but he said there was a lot of interest when the HoDo hit the real estate market.

From the archives: Hotel Donaldson
FARGO -- After raising more than $1 million over the past 11 years, local fundraisers Bras on Broadway and its companion Bros on Broadway are coming to an end, Hotel Donaldson owner Karen Stoker and her team announced in an email sent to supporte...
FARGO - When the Hotel Donaldson had to fill its chef's position in early 2012, management had to choose between two members of their kitchen crew, or look outside the company.
FARGO - Local foodies have a reason to celebrate. Actually, they have seven reasons. A new list of the top 10 restaurants in North Dakota, according to, an art, travel and culture website, includes seven joints in Fargo that wr...
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FARGO - The HoDo Restaurant, located in the Hotel Donaldson in downtown Fargo, recently received a Four Diamond rating by the AAA, the only such restaurant in the state to receive the rating, according to a press release from the hotel.
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The building at 101 Broadway N. (the corner of First Avenue North and Broadway) had been listed for $3,980,000 on the online commercial real estate website LoopNet.


The 22,256-square-foot structure includes a 17-suite luxury hotel, with two ground floor restaurants, a wine cellar and tasting room, and a rooftop bar.

Stoker is the former wife of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. The Forum reached out to her for comment, but had not received a reply by the time this article was published.

The hotel will remain open throughout the change in ownership, Poolman said.

West Fargo's Blarney Stone Pub, 1910 9th St. E., is seen Sunday, March 13, 2022. The owners of the local Blarney Stone are purchasing the Hotel Donaldson in downtown Fargo.
Helmut Schmidt / The Forum

“Everyone knows the Hotel Donaldson as an iconic downtown Fargo property, and knows the value and the vision that Karen put into that property,” Poolman said. “We were very excited to potentially be a part of the downtown Fargo community. And to add value to that wonderful property that people of Fargo have come to love.”

Poolman, “the old Fargo kid” who grew up here and graduated from South High School, is cheered by having struck a deal for the HoDo.

“We could not be any more excited. I have not been more excited to be part of a great real estate project in a really long time. And really glad and excited to be a part of the business community in Fargo,” he said. "And really excited to be a part of a product that downtown Fargo residents and visitors will enjoy.”

The very popular HoDo lounge and its restaurant areas have been closed since August 2020 and have not reopened as the COVID-19 pandemic ground on.

The Hotel Donaldson was originally built in 1893, one of the first buildings to rise after a major fire destroyed much of Fargo’s early downtown.


According to Forum files:

It started its life as the meeting hall for a fraternal organization known as the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows. It had a ballroom on the top floor for dances and meetings.

In the early 1900s, businesses occupying the main floor included Fargo Harness Co., Roen & Dahl millinery, and The Fargo Forum and Republican newspaper.

In 1915, new owners remodeled the building, replacing the ballroom and turning the structure into a “working man’s hotel,” which was named The Hotel Donaldson. It was remodeled again in 1928.

In the 1950s, during the Korean War, the Donaldson had a military contract to house inductees.

Jim Poolman looks out to North Broadway from the lounge of downtown Fargo's Hotel Donaldson on Monday, March 14, 2022. Poolman is a partner in Slainte Holdings, which is buying the iconic HoDo.
Chris Flynn / The Forum

In 1974, it became a permanent-residency apartment complex with 60 rooms, eight of which had private bathrooms. Other residents used communal bathrooms.

The Hotel Donaldson closed Aug. 31, 2000, when the lease for longtime proprietor Thomas W. Bell was not renewed. At the time, rates were $195 to $250 per month, $75 weekly or $20 daily and included a furnished room, cable TV, and a cleaning and linen service once a week.

The new owner, Stoker, then undertook a lengthy renovation of the building, which was feted upon its completion as a hip, upscale addition to the city’s downtown. It was featured in multiple travel stories by newspapers and magazines from around the nation.

The HoDo has seen more competition downtown in the last couple years.

The upscale Jasper Hotel and its Rosewild restaurant and lounge held its grand opening June 24, 2021. The 125-room Jasper is part of the Chicago-based Aparium Hotel Group.

In early 2021, work was completed on updating the Radisson Hotel at 201 5th St. N., turning it into an “upper upscale” Radisson Blu concept . Owner Brandt Hospitality poured $6 million into the 151-room hotel (not including infrastructure work) to give it a contemporary European feel.

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