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Dave Olson, Published September 20 2013

Extinct F-M businesses haunt readers' memories

FARGO – Talk about customer loyalty.

When The Forum asked people to share memories about favorite businesses that are no longer around, a number of readers confessed to pining for places that have been gone for years.

The Cinema Grill garnered several votes.

It opened in 1997 in what had been the Lark Theater at 630 1st Ave. N., Fargo.

The Cinema Grill was a place where you could gobble up burgers while watching movies on the big screen.

Although 2001 spelled “The End” for the business and the building was torn down in 2008, readers continue to relish its memory.

“I was still pretty young when it closed, but I thought it was a great concept, combining dinner with a movie,” Veronica Krile, of Fargo, said in an email in which she held out hope that a future entrepreneur will again see value in the idea.

“I would really like to see something like it open again. I think it could be a hit if it’s done right,” Krile said.

She’s not alone.

“I loved the downtown movie theater that had tables and food,” Kelly Binfet, of Fargo, said in an email.

Binfet said she and her husband, Tim, enjoyed trips to the Cinema Grill with their kids.

“It was a great thing to be able to take them to,” Binfet said. “We would also love to bring back the drive-in movie theater. Can you tell we like movies?”

Here’s a sampling of other emails and letters from readers talking about businesses they say haunt their memories in a good way:

Crazy for Pazzo’s

“My family has missed Pazzo’s for the longest time,” said Ashleigh Smith, of Fargo, referring to a pasta and pizza shop that opened in south Fargo in the mid-1990s and closed around 2003.

“It used to be on 25th Street in a building that is now Vision Bank,” Smith said. “It was a family-owned Italian restaurant and we absolutely loved it.”

Speaking of Italian

Amanda Hofland, of Fargo, still mourns the demise of Valentino’s, an Italian restaurant across from West Acres on 42nd Street.

“They were my absolute favorite delivery option,” Hofland said.

“Their mini dessert pizzas were incredibly delicious and I loved all their pastas

“I drive by their vacant building now and it looks so sad and empty,” she said.

Mad about hats

The Dotty Dunn hat shop in downtown Fargo was a favorite of Virginia Olson, Fargo.

“My daughters have difficulty believing that there was once a store in Fargo that sold only hats,” said Olson, who recalled the business sat on the west side of Broadway.

“Hats were arranged by color,” she said.

Northside lament

Jerry and Pearl Leadbetter, of Fargo, said they miss businesses that used to be in the Northport Shopping Center: stores like True Value Hardware and Ben Franklin.

“The people on the north side of Fargo need to support the local businesses, so they do not all close or move away,” the Leadbetters wrote in an email.

Faded photographs

Nancy Edmonds Hanson, of Moorhead, misses the Epko photo shop that was once on NP Avenue in Fargo.

“It’s been gone a long time, but we remember it fondly and still miss it – the center of the FM photo universe,” Hanson said.

Fine atmosphere

Mary Cannon, of Fargo, had high praise for downtown Moorhead’s Tree Top restaurant, which closed in 2000.

“I loved the view from the beautiful windows, I loved the chef that would cook our food right at our table, I loved the Happy Hour Specials, I loved the whole atmosphere,” Hanson said.

“I still think of the Tree Top every time I want to dine out at a nice restaurant,” she said, adding: “I miss you, Tree Top!”

Not so long gone

The Green Market in Fargo hasn’t been gone long, but Jillian Russell, of Fargo, already misses the locally grown fare and personable service.

“I hope someday Green Market may open their doors again,” Russell said. “If they do, I’ll be first in line.”

After-school snacks

Pam Younggren, of Fargo, recalled that in the late 1950s or early 1960s she would stop for an after-school treat at Mrs. Kennedy’s Kitchen, a store operated by Blanche Kennedy on University Drive just north of Agassiz School in Fargo.

“Mrs. Kennedy made fresh products every day,” Younggren said.

“She was only there for a year or two, then she went to work catering for the FM Hotel in Moorhead,” Younggren added.


David Streed, “born and raised in Fargo,” listed a number of Fargo and Moorhead nightclubs as favorite haunts of days gone by.

He ranked Fargo’s Gaslight bar, which was on the southeast corner of Second Avenue North and Roberts Street, above the rest.

“The Gaslight I miss the most,” he said. “The best bands around.”


A number of readers noted extinct businesses located outside the Fargo-Moorhead area.

Here is a smattering of some of them:

The Thomas Kao Chinese restaurant in Fergus Falls, Minn.; The Beaver Trap and The Pier, both on Otter Tail Lake in Otter Tail County, Minn.; and Toppers restaurant, Grand Forks.

Doan Doty, who lives north of Underwood, Minn., remembered the Thomas Kao Chinese Restaurant as a favorite among family and friends alike.

“Tom and his wife, Linda, had a very successful business for many years and put together some of the very best dishes,” Doty said.

“After many years, they closed their doors and we still miss them,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555