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Bob Lind, Published March 01 2011

Lind: Fargo-Moorhead cafes still serving memories

All right, fans of old area cafes, someone needs your help: Where was the Four Star Café located in Fargo?

Delmer Dooley, Ramona, S.D., asks the question.

Delmer was a student at the Hanson Mechanical Trade School in 1939-40, taking the auto and diesel programs.

While at the school, he worked at the Four Star three hours daily for meals.

Recently his friend and a relative living in Fargo tried to pin down the café’s location, but with no success. Neighbors looked in The Forum’s files and in city directories but couldn’t find anything about it, either.

Delmer thinks it was on the east side of Broadway and south of the Great Northern tracks, but he isn’t sure.

So can someone pin down the Four Star’s location?

Going back to Delmer: After graduating from Hanson, he was offered a job with Lockheed Aircraft and helped build the first P-38, which became one of the nation’s prime fighter planes during World War II.

He then joined the Army Air Corps and was a flight engineer and gunner on a B-17 bomber based in Italy. And what planes flew protective cover for the bombers against German fighters? P-38s.

Filling your pockets

Now to other memories of former F-M cafes from a man who in December 1960 was one of the first students to receive a diploma with the name North Dakota State University on it, after the name was changed from the North Dakota Agricultural College.

Frank Jennings, a farm boy from Langdon, N.D., now lives in Seattle and, during the winter, in Phoenix, Ariz., and is the chairman of the board of the NDSU Development Foundation, on which he’s served for 13 years. He’s retired after spending 20 years in agribusiness and 20 years in international marketing and retailing.

Frank writes that a column about the old Comstock Hotel 50-cent all-you-can-eat meals brought back many great memories of his days as a student at the AC in the mid-1950s.

“Since I had a car (a ’53 Ford),” he says, “many evenings we would load it up, perhaps with as many as seven or eight students, and head over to the Comstock for dinner (‘supper,’ in those days).

“Even though you could go back to refill your plate as many times as you wanted, the routine was to pile as much food as possible on your plate the first time through the line.

“Silverware in one pocket, a dinner roll in another pocket, a milk carton in still another pocket, and just a part of your thumb taking up space on the edge of the plate so as not to waste any space for food.

“The food choices didn’t lend themselves to staying in fit shape, but it tasted great, and it was a terrific bargain.”

“Other food choices for AC students,” Frank says, “was a Pure Oil station on the southwest corner of University (13th avenue in those days) and 12th Street; it had a great lunch counter. And the AC Hasty Tasty on the east side of University just north of 12th.

“Also there was a diner just west of the Gardner Hotel on the north side of the streets. The lunch counter at Hector Airport was also good.

“As students, we knew where all of the good deals were.”

Frank says he sent his café reminiscences to two of his longtime AC friends, one of whom responded by saying, “Was eating all you did when you were in college?”

No, Frank worked in some studying, too. But going out to eat always is part of a college student’s curriculum, regardless of the era.


If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to 241-5487; or e-mail

blind@forumcomm.com