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Ryan Johnson, Published September 09 2013

Owner of Bulldog Tap plans to expand with third bar in Fargo-Moorhead area

FARGO - Location is everything, and the owner of the Bulldog Tap here is keeping that in mind as he works to open his third bar in the metro.

Dave Erickson, 29, got into the bar business right out of college when he opened Dave’s Southside Tap in early 2008 in his native south Moorhead.

He was only 23 at the time, but said he knew he was ready to be his own boss after studying business entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Erickson said he enjoyed hanging out in the “low-key sports bars” along Grand Avenue in his college town. When he returned home after college, he said he wanted to open up the same kind of place here and started his namesake bar.

“I got our momentum going there, and kind of saw an opportunity to come over here,” he said of opening his second bar, Fargo’s Bulldog Tap. “It’s been good to us.”

Erickson pinned his business future on the Osgood neighborhood of south Fargo, opening the Bulldog Tap at 4265 45th St. S. in November 2010 amidst bustling development.

“We actually opened up right after 45th (Street South) became three lanes in both directions, and since that road has opened up, quite a bit more activity has gone this way,” he said. “It just seems that it’s growing and kind of buzzing. There’s always another project going on, which is great because it just means more people coming to our area.”

He said the Bulldog Tap has become a neighborhood hotspot for the singles and younger parents moving here – a good demographic because he said they tend to want to go out more often.

Erickson said customers here tend to be younger than at Dave’s Southside Tap, which he said draws a broader group of people.

Still, he said he’s worked to keep the Bulldog Tap the kind of bar that he frequented during his college career.

“We don’t have a dance floor; we don’t have a stage or anything like that,” he said. “We try to center it around beer, drinks, conversation and sports.”

Expansion plans

With 16 beers on tap, more than a dozen large TVs and room for more than 200 people at a time, the Bulldog Tap is firmly a sports bar that he said draws large weekend crowds and fills its high-top tables during North Dakota State University and Minnesota Vikings football games.

Erickson said the bar also has done well with its free shuttle service to Fargo Force hockey games.

The focus here is on the drinks, especially the Colorado Bulldog that he said is “like a chocolate milkshake with vodka.” Kahlua, the customer’s choice of flavored or regular vodka and half and half is shaken together, then topped off with Coke, chocolate flakes and hazelnuts.

The popularity of the drink makes sense for a bar with a bulldog theme and name, boasting photos of the canine along one wall and behind the bar as well as a large bulldog statute at the center of the bar. Still, Erickson said he doesn’t have any pictures up of Reggie, his bulldog that inspired the name of his second business.

Erickson said the Bulldog Tap is more of a bar than a restaurant, but there are plenty of classic pub foods on the menu, including nachos, wings, burgers and sandwiches.

Business has steadily grown since he opened three years ago, he said, and Erickson is now working to launch his third bar in the community.

“We are definitely aggressively looking to expand our business,” he said.

He’s still finalizing the details but said he hopes to open before the end of the year, potentially in an existing location somewhere in Dilworth, along the Highway 10 corridor.

“We felt that there’s a presence and we could fit into the fabric over there,” he said. “We definitely are local neighborhood bars, and so we felt that there was a big enough neighborhood that we could cater to and enough activity over there between the shopping, the golf course and the residential that’s building over there.”

Business profile

What: Bulldog Tap

Ownership: Dave Erickson

Where: 4265 45th St. S., Fargo

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 2 a.m. Sunday

Contact: (701) 356-3827

Online: www.bulldogtap.com

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587