A year ago, Veterans Boulevard and 32nd Avenue South was patched with empty lots and construction crews.
Now, Amy Strom can look out the restaurant she manages in the area and envision a hot nightlife destination rivaling downtown Fargo.
The District Waterhouse & Kitchen filled up as the nearby Scheels Arena hosted two concerts earlier this year. With more bars and restaurants expected to open in close proximity, Strom thinks things will only get busier.
“It’s hopefully going to be this centrally located spot for people in the surrounding areas,” she said. “I know people anywhere from Horace to Kindred to Mapleton are excited about all the development here because it’s that inbetween spot right before home.”
As The District and other new businesses open their doors, all signs point to a bustling nightlife scene in the overall community that’s become an attractive amenity for a growing workforce.
In 2010, Fargo had 153 active liquor licenses, a number that has since climbed nearly 20 percent to 183 this year. West Fargo’s count grew from 29 in 2012 to 36 this year, while Moorhead now has 45 licenses, up from 38 in 2011.
The number of liquor establishments isn’t the only way to size up the nightlife scene. But when combined with a growing number of concerts, cultural events and arts opportunities, it can amount to an important amenity for prospective workers.
Those after-hours choices can be especially attractive to the millennial generation, according to Samantha Gust.
“We don’t just work to work,” said Gust, professional development coordinator for the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber. “We work to be able to enjoy ourselves once we clock out for the day.”
Gust oversees the Young Professionals Network that has about 500 members and focuses on networking and other social aspects – including introducing newcomers to local entertainment and recreation options.
“We want to create a sense of belonging here so they don’t just see it as a stepping stone for whatever that next step might be,” she said.
The Toasted Frog opened its doors last December on Broadway and has since carved out its own customer base in the crowded downtown Fargo dining scene by targeting a mixed crowd of established professionals, younger workers and people of all ages.
“We’ll have a table of college kids having martinis and appetizers and then right next to them businessmen and women doing entrees and a nice bottle of wine, and nobody feels out of place,” said Sarah Erikson, general manager of the restaurant’s Fargo location.
Frank’s Lounge, too, has drawn a mix of customers since opening in April.
Unlike The Toasted Frog, Frank’s opened in one of Fargo’s newer neighborhoods along 52nd Avenue South – a location bartender Matt Hernandez said is convenient for the many nearby residents who didn’t have many options. “It’s always nice to go someplace close to home,” he said.
As the development focus shifts from downtown to newer neighborhoods, the community could see a lot more businesses like Frank’s and The District serving up new nightlife opportunities across the area, according to Gust.
“It’s nice to see that other parts are really creating little communities in and of themselves instead of just homes,” she said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587 or rmjohnson@ forumcomm.com