Ryan Johnson, Published August 26 2013
West Fargo’s bar and grill for everyone
Owner and manager Kurt Lepird said the bar and restaurant, located at 221 Sheyenne St., is putting the final touches on a large renovation project that started late last year and wrapped up with construction in April.
There’s a new front en-trance and large floor-to-ceiling windows now line the new front wall that looks out onto passing walkers and drivers on Sheyenne Street, giving the bar a downtown feel while also making it a more inviting place to stop by.
The look to the interior has remained largely the same, Lepird said, with orange painted walls and corrugated steel accents on the barfront and above the bar.
But the project has modernized the space, with new TVs, new heating and cooling systems, a full sprinkler system and larger handicapped-accessible restrooms.
Lepird said the 1,300-square-foot addition built on the front of the building allowed him to reconfigure the formerly cramped spaces in the building. The bathrooms have been moved up front, while the space that had been used for the restrooms has now become an office and liquor storage room.
The addition also created a large open space that can host bands for live music visible from anywhere in the bar.
He said the menu’s largely stayed the same, with a focus on burgers, sandwiches, smoked meats and appetizers.
But the changed look to one of West Fargo’s longest running bars has brought fresh air into the building it’s occupied along Sheyenne Street since the mid-1960s.
“It’s just brought in a lot more people,” he said. “It’s given us a lot bigger range in the type of people we can bring in.”
A PLACE FOR EVERYONE
Lepird, who bought the bar 19 years ago from his father, said he considers the establishment to be a “city bar and grill,” as opposed to a neighborhood hangout, because he aims to make it an interesting place to be for all people 21 and up.
It was just a bar when he purchased it, and he said he noticed that patrons would often bring in food from the Domino’s Pizza next door while they enjoyed a drink.
“I decided I might as well start getting some frozen pizzas and started from there,” he said.
In the years since, Lepird said he’s tried to keep up with the rapidly changing bar industry – and the changing expectations of customers.
He said people were starting to “gravitate” to those bars that offered a more extensive menu. So, when frozen pizzas alone wouldn’t cut it anymore, he added an auto-fry machine and started selling appetizers.
Lepird eventually added a grill and smoker – dubbing the restaurant Choppers at first, and later changing the name to Flying Pig when he started doing catering on the side and was moving smoked pork around the region for different events.
Lepird said he’s tried to make sure the joint is known for the quality of its food and beverages. When he first started beefing up the menu, he said he didn’t think the community had a good hamburger option, so he added the grill and used half-pound patties that offer a better flavor than smaller burgers.
Hamburgers are among the top menu items now, he said, and the restaurant has also become known for its “Big Pig” sandwich with ham, pork and Swiss cheese on grilled French bread.
Lepird said he’s also tried to keep up with another big change in the bar industry – customers wanting better, not stronger, cocktails.
When he bought the place, he said a bartender could build a good reputation just by pouring freely and making the drinks strong.
“That’s kind of the opposite of where you have to go now,” he said. “It actually just hurts you as far as business goes. If they start to feel the effects of alcohol, the majority of people are going to stop now.”
Instead of boosting the booze in each drink, he said he now is emphasizing consistency to ensure customers know what to expect from each drink, no matter who makes it.
Lepird said he also plans to create a few signature cocktails, and said the bar uses only fresh lemons and limes in the drinks for a better taste.
The Bar hosts a monthly karaoke night, usually on the first Saturday of each month, and he said he’d like to start adding regular events such as bean bag tournaments, weekly food specials and more concerts to continue to draw a mixed crowd.
“We’re just focusing on making it a place for everyone as opposed to singling it out,” he said.
If you go
The Silver Dollar - Flying Pig Bar and Grill is open 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, with the grill preparing meals 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587