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Published September 18 2010

Trade Talk: Sonic burger boom on way

Burgers and burgers and burgers – oh my.

Last week in this space, we covered the explosion of Asian cuisine in Fargo. This week’s trend in restaurant openings is distinctively more American: No fewer than four new hamburger shops are on the horizon in the Fargo-Moorhead area – including one that’s been flirting with Fargo for ages.

Smashburger, a Denver-based chain, filed a permit last week for a restaurant at 1801 45th St. S., and plans to open by the end of the year. The McDonald’s in the Love truck stop complex at the intersection of 32nd Avenue South and Interstate 94 is moving along rapidly. And a new JL Beers in West Fargo means another location for the bar’s signature burgers (burger with egg, anyone?).

But the real fresh meat for the area will be Sonic Drive-In. The Oklahoma chain has teased Fargoans for years with commercials for food they can’t actually eat – not without driving 200 miles to a Minnesota location, anyway. Strawberry smoothies, onion rings and chili cheese tots have never been so cruel.

But the game of hard-to-get is coming to a close. We don’t know where and we don’t know when, but a company spokeswoman assures us that Sonic is scouting locations to bring a franchise to Fargo in the next year.

Excited? You might want to get in line now. When the franchise moved into the Twin Cities a few years ago, the Star Tribune reported winding lines and lengthy waits as fans swarmed the place.

Vaccine program gets a shot in the arm

For the second straight year, the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corp. will put its money where its mouth is in fostering a vaccine research work force in the region.

The EDC approved a $14,000 grant this past week for Concordia’s Global Vaccine Institute. The money will go toward stipends for students in the program – there are about 10 at a time, according to director Jennifer Bath – and help prepare undergraduates for careers in vaccine research.

Last year, the EDC provided $10,000 for the program. Vaccine research has been one of the cornerstones of the EDC’s strategy over the past year. The group played a major role in recruiting renowned biotech researcher C. Satishchandran (casually known as Satish) to North Dakota State University this year. Recruiting and developing research talent has been cited as a need for the region.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502 or meccher@forumcomm.com