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Published October 12 2010

Silver Moon supper club closes

Two years after making a comeback, downtown Fargo’s Silver Moon supper club – a ritzy throwback to the days of crystal chandeliers and live piano music – closed its doors Monday. It’s the second high-end downtown business to do so in as many weeks.

Co-owner Monte Jones said the decision was “just a business choice I had to make.” He said flooding and the economic downturn took their toll on the restaurant’s bottom line.

Jones said he weighed his options for the past few weeks but ultimately decided closing was the best move for the restaurant’s investors. He declined to discuss the specifics of the restaurant’s financial structure.

“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster the last few weeks here,” he said. “The restaurant business can be very challenging.”

Jones and business partner Jerry Erbstoesser opened the Silver Moon in 2008, the latest incarnation of a restaurant that first began in Moorhead in 1946. That location was destroyed by fire in 1967. The restaurant moved to the Gardner hotel in Fargo but closed in 1974.

Bringing back the restaurant – complete with high-back clamshell booths, a deep wine list and a sophisticated American-fusion menu – was “the most marvelous time I’ve ever had,” Jones said.

The space that housed the current version at 309 Roberts St. was part of a Kilbourne Group project to renovate the old Smith, Follett & Crowl building. The group bought the building in 2007 and refit the top three floors to include 21 loft apartments.

Mike Allmendinger, general manager for the Kilbourne Group, said the firm is looking for new restaurant tenants to fill the 3,600-square-foot space Silver Moon occupied.

He said the firm has not yet contacted any potential takers, and has no timeline to find one.

“Right now, we think it’s a great location for a unique restaurant,” he said.

The Silver Moon’s shutdown comes two weeks after Vlana Vlee, an upscale clothing and furniture store at 102 Broadway – another Kilbourne Group property – said it was closing its doors. At the time, owner Julie Smith said she was closing the shop because of personal considerations.

Mike Hahn, president of Fargo’s Downtown Community Partnership, said he’s not ready to push the panic button on high-end downtown businesses.

He said the Silver Moon wasn’t immune from the struggles of restaurants nationwide. But other businesses in the area are still reporting strong traffic, he said, and fine dining remains marketable.

“I hate to see businesses close,” he said. “Does two constitute a trend? In my opinion, no.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502