Thursday, March 09, 2006

Meet Joe Black

The Joe DiMaggio's Sports Cafe downtown is apparently getting a new owner and a new name. The city council is being asked to approve the transfer of the liquor license from Joe Dimaggio's to Joe Black's Bar and Grill. Joe DiMaggio's has always had great food, but their business has dropped of dramatically since when they first opened. Seems like there is so much changing downtown lately!

46 comments:

Michael W said...

Kind of sad news... I enjoyed the food at Joe Dimaggio's, but I really enjoyed the atmosphere there. It was a great place to watch Sioux hockey.

I think it's funny, you hear a lot of people in town talk about how there are no original places to eat. Lola's was original, Joe Dimaggio's was farely original. It was at least unique.

Grand Forks needs to start supporting Grand Forks. I am now living in a place that is very similar to GF (I call Grand Forks home, of course) and their downtown is attractive and I thoroughly enjoy spending time down there, as I did with Grand Forks. The thing is, Grand Forks' downtown just isn't getting the support. There is too big a tug of war with the town trying to be a destination city and attracting these large corporate entities to line the interstate. That stuff is great, don't get me wrong, but the 50,000 or so people that occupy the metro (GF/EGF) need to realize what they are doing to their city when they don't support local business.

I could go on forever, my point being that I hope the town supports this new ownership. Joe Black's sounds cool, I would visit just based on that.

Anonymous said...

Dimaggio's has been for sale a while. The new owners are Joe, the longtime manager at Muddy rivers, and Dennis Blackmun (best known for the River Bend), so these guys should know what they're doing. The Blackmun family has been involved in such establishments as the river bend, Muddy Rivers, and of course, Griggs Landing... just up the street from where the new place will be.

It is certainly a nice space, it has the potential to be a great addition to downtown. Best of luck to them.

JGS said...

I liked the Dimaggio name. But im sure business will be the same even if changing to Joe Black's. Good luck to him.

Anonymous said...

It is really sad that Joe DiMaggio's will no longer be open in Grand Forks. I don't think the people in town appreciated a locally owned and family operated business. I think we should give a shout out to the DiMaggio's and to any other local people who own businesses in Grand Forks! We should support our local businesses first! I do wish the best of luck to the new owners, I'm excited to check it out, and I'm glad that a couple of local people will be running it!

Anonymous said...

I had the "opportunity" to work at Joe's a few summers ago and it was a very disappointing experience. The place was poorly managed (no offense); it's no wonder they weren't turning a profit. They did virtually no advertising or public outreach, relying on word-of-mouth marketing that never reached a tipping poing. I'm glad the DiMaggios gave it a try, but I'm also glad they're stepping aside and can't wait to see what Joe Black's Bar and Grill will offer.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is the Dimaggio's ran a great independent restaurant with great food for almost eight years and have now decided to leave Grand Forks! In my opinion it is too bad the direction that the city is taking with all the chain restaurants and I really do not blame the Dimaggio family for pulling out!!

Anonymous said...

There goes another good independent restaurant!! I wish the city would support their local places more! Pretty soon all we'll be left with is chain restaurants! It is very sad to see! Good luck to the new owners and I wish all the best to the Dimaggio's and thank them for all their hard work over the years!

Anonymous said...

I don't think people appreciate the hard work and dedication that it takes to make an independent restaurant work in a city like Grand Forks...especially over a long period of time! I am sure the DiMaggio's did the best job they could do with the resources that they had available to them!! I am sorry to hear that they are leaving (one of my favorite places to go when visiting Grand Forks-they had a great menu with food that had flavor!) but I think that someone should at least thank them for the kind of establishment that they created and brought to the city of Grand Forks! I wish much success to Joe Black's Bar...I hope that it goes well and the city supports them!

Anonymous said...

I agree...the menu at Joe Dimaggio's was done with a creative flair where you could find something a little different than the average place! It was just a flat out comfortable place where you go, relax and enjoy the atmosphere with your friends and family! I'm sad to see it go!

Anonymous said...

I too had an opportunity to work at Joe DiMaggio's Sports Cafe briefly before graduating! I found the experience a positive one! I think you have to remember that this was an independent establishment with limited resources for advertising, etc. and not a big chain with unlimited capitol behind it! I watched the owners work long hours with the rest of us and admired their hard work. You can stand back from a far and criticize the management team (which is easy to do and I did as well on some occasions) but at the end of the day here is a classic case of David versus Goliath and they went toe to toe with some of the biggest chains in the market…and I respect that! Nevertheless, good luck and Grand Forks was lucky to have them for as long as they stayed!

JTJ said...

Does anybody have an idea where the kitchen or back of the house family member is going to? I would sure like to get in touch with him and see if he can turn around our menu and establishment. Joe DiMaggio's has always had a well designed menu with great food!

GrandForksGuy said...

What establishment is it that needs turning around? Just curious...

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone is saying Dimaggio's or the managment were failures. Eight plus years in business is a nice run, and I'm sure they could have continued. Every business and businessperson has their strenghths and weaknesses.

Dimaggio's was great with the menu and set up a great space, they weren't as good with promotions and keeping steady crowds in the door. That's not a cheap shot at them, and it doesn't mean their business was a failure, they just decided to move in a different direction personally.

You will probably see Joe Black's operate similarly to the southgate: they are technically a bar, but they'll run a full menu, and will run like a bar after dinner hours... but will still be a fine place to eat or grab some lunch, whereas Dimaggios was more of a family restaurant type place... That's why the new owners switched from a class 4 to class 1 liscense.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of the reasons why the Dimaggio's wanted to leave Grand Forks, they built a tremendous establishment, did a great business and their time has come to move on. Nobody can take that away from them. I tip my hat to any independent that rolls the dice and takes the gamble; it is certainly not an easy road to go down. Thank you Dimaggio family for what you brought to Grand Forks and the type of place you created for the community to enjoy! It was certainly one of my favorite meeting places and my family will miss it!

Anonymous said...

I don't think Joe Black's will make it. Hasn't this Dennis guy failed three times already? I just don't see anything else making it in that building excecpt Joe DiMaggio's. I just loved that place. I would eat there four times a week. I am really sad to see it go. All we have in this town is bars!

Anonymous said...

I am really sad to see Joe Dimaggio's go. I worked there for awhile and I don't know what the one guy was talkign about the owners were there working all the time. They made the workers feel apart of the family. Since I have moved I still keep in touch with the some of the friends I have made there and all of the say the same thing. We have never found a job like that and all of us loved it. The owners were great and I hope Joe Blacks can come close to what Joe Dimaggio's brought downtown!

Anonymous said...

I am so sad to see Joe DiMaggio's go. They had the best food and service in town! Good luck to the family. At least we can still eat at the Joe's in Erskine!

UND Student said...

Well since Joe DiMaggios is being replaced by another local restaurant, I don't think it is that big of a deal.

Now, when I was a senion in HS I came to grand forks and my UND guide tooks my mom & me there for dinner. I think I had pizza, and I enjoyed my food and the menu was definitely creative. This was April 2002. The place was PACKED.

Last month my boyfriend and I were hungry and decided we'd go to a restaurant instead of cooking. I recalled that I had had good food at Joe Dimaggios, even if it was 4 years ago. So, on a Thursday? Friday? night we go there. It was empty except for a table of possibly high school students. The upstairs was closed off since there were so few customers. No one was watching the TVs, yet they were on so loud you could barely hold a conversation. Loudness is good when you've got a packed house, so you can still know what's going on, but it was empty that night...

Now, on to the food. Everything sounded so good, and I was split between pizza and pasta. I ended up going with the chicken parmiagana (which was said to come with pasta), and my boyfriend got spaghetti with a meatsauce. Our food arrived and I must say, it was about the worst meal I've consumed in Grand Forks. I had such great memories of DiMaggios from 2002, I was just like "Whoa! where did this food come from?" The pasta was absolutely bland. My high school cafeteria had it down better, heck, even UND's "chow hall" Wilkerson has better pasta. It made no sense. The chicken was edible, but had a very odd texture ala McDonald's chicken nuggets. At this point I wondered if the kitchen staff was sick and the wait staff had to fill in? My boyfrineds pasta was better, given that it had a sauce. However, it was still bland and boring. I think dishes there run around $8 or $9? I would rather have spent that money eating and one of UND's dining centers.

Anyhow, had I not eaten at Joe DiMaggio's last month, I would be SUPER SAD to see it go, and woulld wonder why it was going out of business. However, since I have been there so recently I completely understand why it is closing, and honestly I am happy since I think a new restaurant (STILL LOCAL) will be trying hard to keep service/food/atmosphere up high to get people's loyalty.

Anyhow, thats my comment

GrandForksGuy said...

I think this is becoming the official Joe DiMaggio's tribute page...that's cool!

My thoughts on Joe DiMaggio's closing...
I never like seeing a local business close up, but I think I saw this one coming for a while now. When Joe DiMaggio's first opened in the late 90s, I loved the place. They had great food and a fun atmosphere. In those days, the restaurant was very family-friendly.

In recent years, I started going there less and less. When I did go there, the place was practically empty. The food was still good, if not quite as great as when the restaurant first opened. A major problem of mine was with the staff. In my experiences, the staff started to go downhill several years ago. I have had plenty of uncaring waiters/waitresses there who didn't seem to value me as a customer very much at all. Another major concern I had was with the overall atmosphere of the place. The front room facing North Third Street used to be where most of the families would sit. Essentially, it was the "restaurant" and the back area had much more of a "bar" feel to it. A couple of years ago, the restaurant was "remodeled". The "remodeling" involved nothing more than constructing a wall to block off the front room from the view of customers coming into the restaurant. I'm not sure if and when this room was ever open, but it was always closed off when I went there. You had to sit in the back...a very smoky area that had loud TVs and, often times, loud bar patrons. Not exactly the kind of place a family is very likely to go. In my opinion, closing off the front room was a terrible mistake that made the establishment seem more like a bar than a restaurant and played a major role in the ultimate failure of the restaurant.

I can't say much about the owners/managers personally because I did not know them, but I can speak to the fact that it didn't always seem like the place was very well managed or that very good decisions were made along the way. The closing of Joe DiMaggio's may be a result of a drop in business, but it is unfair to blame Grand Forks residents for the drop. I've heard the saying that "Grand Forks doesn't support its local restaurants and that's why they close", but I have major problems with that feeling. Grand Forks has many successful local restaurants that have been around for years or even decades. If a local restaurant fails, it isn't because of Grand Forks' failure to support it. People won't support a place just because they have good food. A restaurant also has to have a friendly and inviting atmosphere and format if it wants to succeed. Local residents shouldn't be used as the scapegoat every time a local restaurant closes.

Anonymous said...

I guess I don't agree with you. Joe DiMaggio's had great service. We went there every weekend because of the great service and food. I believe there will never be a place like Joe DiMaggio's again in Grand Forks.

Anonymous said...

I heard Joe D's had sold not went out of business. I liked the place it was different than any of the other same old chains. Who could blame them for leaving I think GF is a pretty sad and boring town that revolves around college kids.

Anonymous said...

I think the grandforksguy is really wrong. I love Grand Forks but our town loves chain's and even if it is the same food people will pick the chain. Why? I don't know why but it is what it is. I had my wedding party at Joe Dimaggio's and if it wasn't for that front room with the wall, I don't know if I would have had it there. I love how closed in it was and the owners did a good job with our prices so we could afford it. I hate to see Joe Dimaggio's go because every town needs local places to make them special not chains and that is what we are coming down to.

Anonymous said...

I think the grandforksguy is really wrong. I love Grand Forks but our town loves chain's and even if it is the same food people will pick the chain. Why? I don't know why but it is what it is. I had my wedding party at Joe Dimaggio's and if it wasn't for that front room with the wall, I don't know if I would have had it there. I love how closed in it was and the owners did a good job with our prices so we could afford it. I hate to see Joe Dimaggio's go because every town needs local places to make them special not chains and that is what we are coming down to.

undgrad said...

For whatever reason Joe Dimaggio's decided to end their run here in Grand Forks; they built a great place that was admired for quite some time and they were able to create a pretty solid reputation.That's pretty good in my book! I agree with the opening statement of the 50,000 people in the GF / EGF cities cannot support the restaurants that are being built one after the other. It seems to me that the people of the "grand cities" follow the same pattern when a new restaurant opens. It is completely packed for the first three or four months or until another new restuarant opens and then business falls off and people start gossiping about closing; quite frankly I had heard just about every restuarant is closing; from the blue moose, whitey's, applebees egf all the way to Suite 49 and the Ground Round; I wish we could talk about industry and the lack of it here! We need to start attracting more companies with good paying jobs to keep families and bring families to these cities. How many UND grad are planning on getting a job and staying in the area? Instead we keep builing service stores and restuarants. The real estate developers love it because they get the high rents with the "build to suit" buildings for the restaurant chains, etc. So when I read comments about how business for Joe Dimaggio's dropped off and the management was not up to par; They built a great place and it doesn't matter what people say or gossip about; there isn't anyone that can take that away from them! I just hope when the next restaurant decides to pack up and leave that we appreciate the good things that they brought into the community. Remember these are real people! What have you brought into the community "Grandforksguy"? It is pretty easy to critize isn't it?

GrandForksGuy said...

For me, it boils down to the fact that Joe DiMaggio's almost always had great food, but did have some problems with staffing from time to time. The owners operated a fairly successful restaurant for several years and they should be congratulated for that. It was a decent run. At the same time, don't blame Grand Forks residents for a restaurant closing or changing hands. Around 65% of small businesses "fail" within a decade of opening. That is the nature of the game and anybody getting into a small business knows that. Grand Forks is not unique in not always bending over backwards to support small businesses.

Regardless of why Joe DiMaggio's closed, I wish the new owners of Joe Black's the best of luck. With over 200 housing units under construction or in the planning stages, it seems like downtown is making a comeback. Having two new restaurants - The Toasted Frog and Joe Black's - across from the new townhouses and just steps from the upcoming Dakota Block apartments should be a great match and hopefully there will be enough synergy for the businesses to succeed.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think that these bars will do well downtown after the brownstones are built. I think it will be alot of families moving in and I know If they will spend alot of money in them. Think about it, If you have children do you want them right next to a bar that is going to have gaming and bands and have nothing but drunk kids coming and out of it? It's sad but I think these bars will close in the next couple of years and more chains will come downtown. Good luck toasted frog and Joe Black's because I think you will really need it.

Anonymous said...

has the grandforksguy owned a place or does he just sit in his place and read the blog? anyway since were talking a joe's i will throw in my two cents. the place was a great place with great food and great service. the paintings were breath taking and so was the brick walls. it is sad they left and we will miss the food.

GrandForksGuy said...

As far as the bars not doing well downtown because there will only be families living in the new housing units, I don't think that will necessarily be the case. As Lonnie Laffen (a prominent local architect who is doing the downtown Opera House Lofts now) said on WDAZ the other night, most of the new housing units being built or that have been proposed are not intended for families. The downtown area simply isn't the ideal place for families with children. Children want to run around and play...not much space for that kind of thing downtown. The new units are almost all going to be aimed at single people, especially young professionals and students. Hopefully people with some extra cash to spend downtown!

And as far as this statement...
has the grandforksguy owned a place or does he just sit in his place and read the blog?
I had to read that a couple of times before I could figure it out and I'm still not 100% sure what you mean, anonymous. GrandForksGuy is me and I am the owner of this blog...I don't just "sit in my place and read the blog."

Anonymous said...

The fact that DiMaggio’s even opened in the first place is a joke. They came to town only because of the post-flood loan grant program. In fact, the father of one of the owners ran the agency that was dishing out the funds. And…they got more money than was legally defined in the program. I would describe this situation with one simple word…criminal. Soon after they opened, it was obvious that they weren’t going to make it. They scrambled and tried several cost-saving alternatives. One was paying the help in cash and dodging payroll taxes, worker’s comp. etc. That is more highly illegal activity and also exposed many fine young employees to the risk of injury with a potential that they weren’t covered by worker’s comp. When they decided to sell years ago, they were unable to because the books were such a mess. The community of Grand Forks was unfortunately apathetic and desperate for downtown businesses, so they turned a blind eye. In the meantime many great locally owned legal operators were forced to compete with this ridiculous aberration. They’re gone, that’s the good news. A qualified operator with decades of experience is now in the space. I know that I’ll do what I can to support them. I never gave the old owners the time of day. They didn’t deserve it! Good luck to the new owners.

It’s true.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I don't think that this is right to say this with out the owners of the place here to be able to defend themselves. I think people here are saying what Joe DiMaggio's meant to them and that is it. As someone that lives in Grand Forks and loves everything about the town, I just feel that comment is bad for our town. It is to bad this person had to come on here and say things that we don't even know are true. Good luck to the new owners and I hope this person that wrote the comment above doesn't say anymore negitive things about other places in our town.

Anonymous said...

I don't care what anybody says Joe Dimaggio's was a great place to eat, chill and watch a sporting event. The food was great the people were great and the service was great.Imean I ate there at least 4 times a week sometimes more and I became friends with alot of the employees. I've been coming in there since they opened after the flood in '97 and these people became my friends and more like a second family to me. So it really makes me mad when people judge other people when they don't know what they're talking about. Oh ya does anyone remember that the new owners of that space used to own The River Bend and then they drove it into the ground?

undgrad said...

It is obvious that some of the comments on this blog are starting to get ridiculous. It's time to end this segment! If you are going to allow false statements like the then I think this blog should be shut down! I mean come on...let's get the facts straight! Joe Dimaggio's was sold to new owners who are changing the name to Joe Blacks! Yes, they purchased it! They are going for a bar crowd and will make renovations to accommodate their patrons. Joe DiMaggio's could have continued at its current address if they wanted to and for whatever reason on their own accord have decided to leave Grand Forks. In my opinion, there were so many positive tribute statements about Joe DiMaggio's that some ignorant people have now started to write in and make false and ridiculous statements. The bottom line is the downtown has some uphill battles to face. The parking issues have not been solved; the construction that will take place will also inhibit and distract people from wanting to be in the area as well during the building phase! You can try and destroy a good solid reputation like the one that Joe DiMaggio's had and currently still has by false statements but the truth is they ran a great independent establishment for many years and they gave back to the community! The city has moved on, Joe DiMaggio's has moved on, it is time to let this go and move on to other things!

grandforkswoman said...

I agree with the above statement! voice your opinion, say true facts but do not smoke crack and then get on the blog and start writing! Joe Dimaggio's was a great place that was enjoyed by a number of people for many years. I wish Joe Black's Bar well! Time will tell what kind of place it will turn out to be and if they can build a reputation in the bar industry like the one the Dimaggio's built with their food!

GrandForksGuy said...

We need to settle down here. This blog isn't meant to be a place for personal attacks. Criticism is one thing, but let's not make accusations without backing them up with any proof. Can't we just all get along?

Anonymous said...

Joe Black' bar will have a tough road ahead in beginning! They are going to open in the summer when the college kids won't be in town. Construction will have started by then and the ever shrinking parking in the downtown will also be a never ending stuggle. By the time the college kids come back they should see an increase in business. I am curious to see how this bar will play out over a period of two or three years? I agree...time will tell.

Anonymous said...

mANY OF THE ALLEGATIONS MADE BY ANONYMOUS ARE VERIFIABLE AND A MATTER OF PUBLIC RECORD. I WAS THERE THE FIRST TIME THEY TRIED TO SELL AND THE BOOKS WERE A MESS. tHEY REALLY DID PAY THEIR EMPLOYEES OVERTIME IN CASH. tHEIR LANDLORD TRIED TO BUY THEM OUT BUT COULDNT GET FINANCING DUE TO THE SHAMBLES THE PLACE WAS. THIS WAS IN THE FALL OF 2001.

Anonymous said...

GFG, if you have a problem with reality and the facts, change the name of your blog from Grand Forks Life to Grand Forks, Only The Good News. You can then moderate daily and we'll all get together some day and sing Kumbaya. If that's not what you want, then except the facts, as grim as they may be.

Anonymous said...

I am sure you were there! You sound the the kind of person to have around! That is the problem with a blog...anybody can get on and write anything they want! Go back to playing some video games would you!

Anonymous said...

Hey anonymous- I'll bet you sing a pretty good tune! You sound like a disgruntled worker who got fired and is still holding a grudge! Go find a job and clean yourself up!

Anonymous said...

I don't think this website was set out to attack or accuse people. My god who really cares joe dimaggios has been sold and is out of gf so why bring nonesense stuff up. Let it lie it's over find something else to talk about this is old new already.

Grandforksman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Grandforksman said...

What we have is one person on the blog who is ruining it for everybody and making a bunch of stupid and childish statements! Get off the blog and move on with your life!

Anonymous said...

What is going on here? I just came on here to say Thank you to Joe DiMaggio's and then to read the stuff that anonymous wrote is really bad. I worked at Joe's and knew the owners really well and they never did that stuff. I was there during the 2001 time and I worked there till 2004. The owners always gave money away to kids who were going to different states and also gave away many gift cards to people for fundraisers. Anyway thank you Joe Dimaggio's for all the great food over the years. Take care!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that the person who wrote the blog on 03/30/2006 is totally mentally. The statement
" In fact, the father of one of the owners ran the agency that was dishing out the funds." Hello stupid, the father (Joe DiMaggio)and his son's (Joe and Mike DiMaggio)ran it, how could it be the father of one of the owners. The father doesn't work for the government, he owns a restaurant in Erskine. That person is for sure a crack smoker! A blog is about opinion, none of us saw their books or know how the deals were worked out in this business or any other, so it's not even worth fighting about!

Anonymous said...

Well I think my word should stand a chance in this blog.. I am Dennis' daughter and to all those that have put him down and said the things they did about him obviously dont know him at all! My father yes had to shut the riverbend down, but, do you guys even know the history of it. The person who said he drove it into the ground and the other person who said that he has failed three times obviously are just people that have nothing good to say and dont know what they are talking about.. The Riverbend was built and owned by my grandparents before these people were even born. I will gladly stick up for my father and say he is the hadest working man I have ever met.. He has gone through so many things like taking over his parents buisness, the flood and everything that came along with this buisness.. I would not doubt it that the people that sit and bash im, just wish they were in the shoes he was, OMG HE FAILED ONCE!! Thats normal, im sure you both have too.. Pople should respect others in the resturant and bar buisness, you guys have no idea how hard it is. I grew up seeing everything that you have to do and what goes on for 20 years. Im sure you both dont have good jobs and are wishing that things were different in your life, so you have to go on here and try bash other people??? Im sorry but I have never been so upset then to read what these two have wrote. Joe DiMaggios was a great place and my dad was very good friends with them, Now Joe Blacks is a great place, why would someone sit there and try bash it when its one of the most poopular places to be in GF. Im just gonna quit right there, But to the two who thought they could bash my father and not even know him, grow up.. Your attitudes just show what kind of people you are, You are low lifes..

Anonymous said...

Joe Blacks is awesome. It is the best bar in town. To all you poeple that dissed Dennis in your face, because I am sure him and Joe are making more money in a year than most of you are making in 4 or 5 years. Have any of you been in there on a weekend? I am guessing not sense people stopped writing in here a while ago and now people are eating there own words. Good work Joe and Dennis you both deserve it.