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Ryan Bakken, Forum News Service, Published October 06 2013

Items in former Grand Forks supper club up for auction

GRAND FORKS – Three boots are among the items available for nostalgic customers of Grand Forks’ iconic Bronze Boot restaurant at an auction this week.

The most prominent of the boots is a 30-foot neon sign on the roof of the restaurant, which was closed in May 2012.

“I have heard through the grapevine that three (prominent) local people have expressed interest,” said David Leonardi, owner of Curt D. Johnson Auction Co.

“It could go for $10,000 or it could go for $100. What I do know is that it will cost $600 to take the sign down.”

Other boots for sale are a 3-foot neon sign above the main entrance and a 6-foot papier-mâché piece of art at the hostess station.

The signage contributed to the restaurant being commonly known as “The Boot” during its 58-year reign at 1802 N. Washington St.

The auction will be held on the site Tuesday, starting at 10 a.m. Asked who will attend, Leonardi said that he expects about 150 people, falling into two categories. “There will be restaurant owners, of course, and the rest will be looking for a little bit of history,” he said.

The Boot’s charm came from being known as an old-fashioned supper club, offering meat-and-potatoes fare, with the quality of food taking a higher priority than the ambience. Adding to the image was the family ownership, first by Darcy Fonder and then his son, Terry Fonder.

The Boot also was known for its Saturday afternoon offerings of deep-fried bull fries, also known as Rocky Mountain oysters.

With all of the items for sale – including more than 100 decanters and the restaurant equipment – Leonardo said he expects the auction to last seven to eight hours. The biggest auction he’s run was in 2005, after the Westward Ho entertainment complex on Gateway Drive closed.

“The Westward Ho auction took two months to organize; this one took two weeks,” he said.

The Bronze Boot property has been purchased by the neighboring North Dakota Mill and Elevator, with the building likely to be demolished.

Vance Taylor, the Mill’s president and general manager, said the use of the space, including the parking lot, has not been determined.