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Terry DeVine column: Rural banks come through for couple

Barb and Terry Saucke are determined to help Fargo's downtown business climate, but they sometimes feel like they're swimming upstream against a strong current.

Barb and Terry Saucke are determined to help Fargo's downtown business climate, but they sometimes feel like they're swimming upstream against a strong current.

They're sticking a fair amount of money into renovating the former 21st Amendment building at 514-520 1st Ave. N. But it isn't money from Fargo banks.

"Here we are promoting downtown Fargo and then no one wants to help us," said Barb, who lamented the fact that eight Fargo-Moorhead banks said no to their loan requests.

The Sauckes are turning the building into a combination deli/market. Terry, a private contractor, also is turning the upper floor into three upscale apartments, one of which the Sauckes are already living in.

Barb, a native of the Clifford-Galesburg area, who also owns Deli, etc., in Mayville, N.D., said Darv Hauff, president of Security State Bank in Hunter, N.D., came through for them again by loaning the $150,000 they needed to buy the building.

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Why not? The Sauckes have built three fiveplexes and a duplex in Mayville-Portland since 1992 and the units were all pre-sold before they were finished.

They again ran up against a brick wall at local banks when they tried to get a $200,000 construction loan. They said Wayne Hove of First State Bank of Buxton, N.D., approved the loan within 24 hours.

But they did say Fargo senior planner Bob Stein helped them gain Renaissance Zone status, allowing them to take advantage of a five-year tax abatement. Stein even rented one of the upstairs apartments, which Terry said he hopes to have ready sometime in January.

And they praised the efforts of Dave Anderson, president of the Downtown Community Partnership, to help them cut through variance obstacles.

Barb said they're mulling over a possible name for the deli/market, which she'll open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. She said she'll also open for lunch on Saturday. She anticipates hiring two full-time and at least four part-time employees.

Called an "outstanding cook" by her husband, Saucke, 45, will be there most of the time, as usual. She's worked in or owned restaurants in rural North Dakota communities since she was 15. She's owned restaurants in Clifford, Portland, Galesburg and Hunter since the 1980s.

"On Tuesdays I would leave home at 4 in the morning, work in my Hunter restaurant from 5 to 2, then head for my Galesburg restaurant and work from 2:30 to 9," she said. "I'm not afraid of hard work."

She and Terry have stayed in North Dakota for several reasons, but largely because of the people, said the gregarious Barb.

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"One of my customers at the deli in Mayville, Lowell Baldock, who used to own the bar in Clifford, came in one day and said, 'People who leave North Dakota to start the world on fire often come back for more matches.'"

Clearly excited about the prospect of being located across the street from the new Donaldson Hotel, Barb said she'd eventually like to hold on-site cooking classes and bring in groups to play bridge and pinochle on a regular basis.

"I love to play cards so there might be a danger of me not getting my work done," she laughed.

She'll also sell some antiques. "I have an uncle who's an antique dealer in London and he says this country isn't old enough to have antiques," she said.

They're in the process of ordering equipment and they said they hope to be open for business by March.

"I love people," she said. "There's just as much counseling in the food service business as there is in the bartending business."

Readers can reach Terry DeVine at (701) 241-5515 or tdevine@forumcomm.com

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