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Dishing up on dining out: Three ‘new’ restaurants plan openings in next few months

MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER The Minnesota Nice Cafe expects to open in its new location in early October.1 / 3
MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER Buffalo Wild Wings plans to open in early December.2 / 3
MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER Novo is slated for a late October or early November opening.3 / 3

BEMIDJI -- It's coming.

Construction on Buffalo Wild Wings is expected to begin next week in preparation for an opening in early December.

Milo and Gayle Holderbecker, owners/operators of Bemidji's Burger Kings, and their son Travis are the franchise owners preparing for the opening of the much-anticipated restaurant.

"It's unique in that we don't have anything like this now," said Travis Holderbecker, who will operate Bemidji's Buffalo Wild Wings, to be located at 225 Paul Bunyan Drive NW, the site of the former standalone Thrifty White Drug. "There's no sports bar or sports-style bar in town; there's no place you can get this environment, this culture.

"You can get chicken wings anywhere, but the whole experience of feeling like you're in the stadium, that whole feel, the camaraderie of going in not knowing the person sitting next to you, but when somebody scores, you give high-fives and you walk out with a friend."

Area residents have long anticipated a Buffalo Wild Wings here in Bemidji. Developers on Lake Bemidji's south shore had at one time planned to open a Buffalo Wild Wings attached to the Country Inn & Suites hotel, but that plan changed and the restaurant now is planned to be a Cowboy Jacks.

Travis Holderbecker said he plans to hire about 160 employees for Buffalo Wild Wings, which will have a separate bar, dining room, private room and patio. There is room for more than 300 inside and about 45 people out on the patio. The private room will hold 35-40 people, perhaps for an end-of-the-season banquet for a youth hockey team.

"Buffalo Wild Wings is more family oriented than a lot of people think," Milo Holderbecker said. "Everybody thinks of it as a college bar, but they have kid meals and kid crowds.

"That's where some of that separation comes in, to keep it quiet so there's areas where it's not so loud."

A two-sided giant-screen TV, 188 inches and 84 inches, will provide separation between the bar and dining room.

It is one of many TVs, none of which will be smaller than 55 inches, Travis Holderbecker noted. Two 80-inch TVs are planned over the bar.

Permits have been approved and hammers are expected to begin next week.

"Everything is a go," Milo Holderbecker said.

Minnesota Nice

Construction continues closer to the heart of downtown as crews work toward the relocation of the Minnesota Nice Cafe.

The cafe, which for seven years has been serving homemade fare at 414 Beltrami Ave. NW, is preparing to move into its new location next to the Woolen Mills along Irvine Avenue North.

"It's looking really nice," said cafe owner Jeanette Proulx, who announced this spring that the popular cafe will relocate to the building that previously housed Snow Goose Gifts and Bad Cat Creations.

Proulx, along with her staff of about 25 is excited for the relocation, which will provide more space and increased opportunities, including a twice-a-week dinner nights, when the "Minnesota Nice Cafe" sign will instead welcome patrons to "Minnesota Nice at Night" to differentiate the atmosphere.

"We've got some really special, wonderful recipes planned," Proulx said.

Construction has taken longer, thanks in part to the 112-year-old building planned to house the cafe, which last year garnered national attention for its pancakes.

"I love that about it," Proulx said of the age of the "new" building. "It's going to be unique."

The cafe will relocate in early October, Proulx said.

Her lease actually expired Sept. 1 for her current space but Proulx said her landlord extended it a month. While she thinks she could probably get another extension, she said it's time to move on to the next phase of operation.

Meanwhile, she is working toward adding personal touches into the new building, including the planned relocation of her restaurant's church pew.

"The staff is just really excited, and I'm excited too," she said.


You can't miss the progress on Novo.

Located along Paul Bunyan Drive Northwest, the new cafe replaces the former Maid-Rite Cafe building, which was bought by Lueken's Village Foods before the the Maid-Rite closed in May.

As they learned it would be more cost-effective to construct new, the old building was razed in July.

Work on the new structure has been progressing well, said Brent Sicard, Lueken's president.

"We're thinking hopefully by the end of October, maybe early November," he said of the opening date, "just depending on when the equipment and booths and other stuff all shows up."

Fans have been tracking the project, not just through drive-bys, but also through period photo updates on the cafe's Facebook page,

Sicard said people do seem excited.

"A lot of people are asking us a lot of questions," he said.

The cafe will offer contemporary American fare with fresh ingredients.