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Dave Olson, Published March 05 2014

Juano's won't move from Fargo to Moorhead after all

FARGO – After flirting with the idea of relocating a popular downtown Fargo restaurant to downtown Moorhead, the owners of Juano’s say they are keeping the business where it is.

“We’re happy to be staying,” said Annele Mondragon, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Juan.

The couple said last month they planned to close the downtown Fargo location and move Juano’s, a full-service Mexican restaurant, to a spot in downtown Moorhead where they operate a Juano’s express store and lounge in the Kassenborg Block.

Those businesses are next door to another Mondragon restaurant – John Alexander’s.

Annele Mondragon said those plans are now history for a number of reasons, one being difficulties they encountered in negotiating the sale of the lease they hold on the downtown Fargo property.

But she said the main reason they decided to stay in Fargo was the response they received from customers after news of the proposed move was made public.

“We’re going to do banners that say: ‘You asked us not to go, so we’re staying,’’’ Mondragon said.

Before changing their minds, the Mondragons said they looked hard at moving to Moorhead because of financial incentives the city offered.

In October, the Moorhead City Council changed city policy, allowing it to start offering new or expanding restaurants an “employee credit” that could amount to $1,500 per new or retained employee up to a maximum of $25,000.

On Wednesday, Moorhead Economic Development Director Matt Maslowski provided a diplomatic take on the news that the Mondragons were staying in Fargo.

“It sounds like a private decision to take a different direction,” Maslowski said, adding that the city’s economic incentives remain in place.

“We have a very aggressive and good incentive program for anybody that would choose to move into that location and a few other areas as well,” Maslowski said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555