Thursday, January 31, 2008

WDAZ's new digs

WDAZ debuted their new set on Thursday. If you didn't get a chance to see it, check out one of the day's newscasts. I must say, I really like the new set so far. Previous sets have looked very...well, let's just say the new set looks much more professional than its predecessors. Me like.

I'm glad to see WDAZ/Forum Communications finally spend a little bit of money to improve the station's visual appeal. I realize that a flashy set doesn't in itself make a better newscast. However, it does provide for a more professional looking overall package and I think that makes a difference.

What do you think of the new set? Do you miss the lovely carpet on the wall? How about the new graphics and opening sequence?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Open Thread #62.

Go ahead, bloviate.

New English pub coming to GF

The Marcil Group, a local real estate company, has announced plans to open as many as 60 English-style pubs in the Midwest. The chain that Marcil is partnering with is The Firkin Group of Pubs. The Marcil Group plans to have locations in both Grand Forks and Fargo open as early as this summer. (Marcil press release) (Herald story)

What do you think of this announcement? Take a look at their menu...opinions? Any idea where this Firkin Pub is going to go in Grand Forks? How do you think this will affect our other English-style pub, Tavern United?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Denny's opens

The new Grand Forks Denny's location opened on Sunday. I'm interested to hear from people who have visited the new restaurant. How is the food and the service? Will you be a frequent customer?

Open Thread #61

In the words of our dear friend Marilyn Hagerty, "wazzup?"

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

We need a new bookstore

We're always talking about how we wish Grand Forks had a particular store or restaurant that we're currently lacking. Although a lion's share of the discussion seem to be centered around pining for an Olive Garden or wishing we had a grocery store that stocked high-end or hard to find foods, I see another area where this city is currently lacking. Grand Forks needs a new, big, "real" bookstore.

Yes, I know that we have that great big Barnes & Noble store at University Village. It's a very nice bookstore...a very nice college bookstore. You see, it is actually a Barnes & Noble College Booksellers store, not a real Barnes and Noble location. That's why the store has such limited hours and doesn't stock some of the merchandise that a regular Barnes & Noble would usually stock. So, while a very nice UND bookstore, this is not really the kind of bookstore that adequately serves a community of this size.

There are other bookstore in Grand Forks too. Columbia Mall has two - Walden Books and B. Dalton - however, they are both quite small and only carry a limited selection of books. They also aren't conducive to customers who like to leisurely peruse books and carry on a conversation over lattes. They are both decent "mall bookstores." However, once again, they are not what a community like Grand Forks truly needs.

So, while the UND bookstore and the mall bookstores are all fine stores which serve particular purposes, they are not fulfilling all of this community's needs when it comes to booksellers. That's why I think Grand Forks desperately needs a big, new bookstore to set up shop somewhere in town. This bookstore should have long hours, carry a wide assortment of titles, possibly include a music department, and offer amenities such as a cafe. A logical spot for such a bookstore would be on the south side of town...that way, the store would be all but guaranteed a steady flow of business.

Exactly what store do I have in mind for expansion into Grand Forks? Well, since the current Barnes & Noble in town isn't a "real" Barnes & Noble...would it be out of the question for that chain to open a new bookstore in Grand Forks? If not them, how about a Borders?

Fargo and Bismarck both currently have large Barnes & Noble stores and now Minot is about to get a brand new Barnes & Noble. Why should Grand Forks be left out of the plans? Grand Forks needs a big, new, "real" bookstore that can function as both a place to buy books and as a place to simply spend the evening perusing titles and sipping coffee.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bob Brooks passes away

Many if you have probably already heard the news. Grand Forks City Council member and East Grand Forks City Administrator Bob Brooks has died unexpectedly. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Open Thread #60

What should we talk about?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The big winners of 2007

The year 2007 was a good year for the Greater Grand Forks business scene. The swarms of Canadians that have routinely been swamping Grand Forks' commercial districts each weekend have pumped new money into the community. On top of this, several new businesses opened their doors this past year.

Interestingly enough, the big success stories in the 2007 Grand Forks business community were not those of corporate giants like Wal-Mart. That having been said, of course the big-box retailers in town not only held their own, but flourished during the past year. However, I would argue that the big success stories of the year came in the form of a long awaited project that has been viewed as an integral part of this city's economic success and in the form of a homegrown entertainment venue that is giving the "big boys" some serious competition and pumping new life into a part of the community that needed it.

Of the new business in town, the Canad Inn certainly is the hardest to ignore. The 13-story tower on 42nd Street has become a visible landmark for the community and the big parking lots surrounding the complex are routinely near capacity. Discussion went on for years concerning whether or not such a complex would be a success. In the end, the Canad Inn has become a huge success story - not only for the company but for the community as well. The flocks of Canadian shoppers that have been coming to Grand Forks have been helping to fill the hotel's rooms. A drive through the parking lot on any given weekend will show that more than half of the cars bear Canadian license plates. So far, the success of the Canad Inn has not spelled doom for existing hotels in town. In fact, a new 100-room hotel is currently being built not very far south of the Canad complex and Canad itself has apparently not even ruled out a second hotel complex in the metropolitan area.

The state of Greater Grand Forks' movie theaters has been a common complaint on this blog. Many readers have complained about what they see as dirty theaters, poor management, and high prices coupled with Carmike Cinema's local monopoly. For those disgruntled moviegoers, their "savior" arrived this year in the form of local businessman Bob Moore and his new River Cinema 12 located in East Grand Forks' Riverwalk Centre. According to virtually anyone you ask the new movie theater has been a resounding success in its first month of operation. Not only is this theater giving new options to residents; it is also pumping money and vibrancy into our metropolitan area's central business district.

In 2007, the "winners" were not the Holiday Inns or Carmike Cinemas of this community. Instead, the real winners were the homegrown businesses such as the Canad Inn and the River Cinema. Many readers of this blog routinely chastise some of us for focusing too much attention on national chains. I'm happy to say that 2007 saw successes in both chains and locally-owned ventures. Let's hope that healthy mix continues in 2008.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


"BEST OF GF" is returning after being on hiatus. I know you guys love sharing your opinions on things like area restaurants so I think this is a good feature to have on GFL.

I'm asking you, my loyal readers, what Grand Forks establishment serves the best pizza? Vote below and then discuss in the comment section. Have fun!

Deek's Pizza
Domino's Pizza
Green Mill
Happy Joe's
Joe Black's
Little Caesar's
Mamma Maria's
Papa John's
Papa Murphy's
Pizza Hut
Popolino's Pizza
Rhombus Guys
Slapshot Pizza
Toasted Frog

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Current Apartments

Downtown Grand Forks' newest housing project, The Current Apartments, has a new website.

Monday, January 07, 2008

No horseshoe stadium for UND

Forget all of those pretty pictures. Apparently, UND isn't considering building an outdoor, horseshoe-shaped football stadium after all. When I asked JLG Architects - the firm working on the UND athletics master plan - about a specific feature of such a stadium, I was informed that the plan shown above is "an earlier concept that is no longer a part of the plan." So it sounds more like we're talking about a new retractable roof football stadium in UND's future.

I was personally rather fond of the horseshoe plan. I really like the idea of utilizing the existing facade of Memorial Stadium. I'm not sure if the facade would be retained as a part of the indoor plan.

Open Thread #59

A new year and a new chance to have your say.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Say goodbye to Krispy Kreme

The failure of the Fargo Krispy Kreme location now makes it all but certain that we probably won't be seeing a Grand Forks Krispy Kreme. Also, say goodbye to buying Krispy Kreme doughnuts at local gas stations.

Are you sad to see this company pull out of North Dakota? Had you been hoping for a Grand Forks location? Why do you think the Fargo Krispy Kreme couldn't make it work?

For the last couple of years now, the Fargo Krispy Kreme seemed almost deserted when I went to it. There were very few customers inside the building and even fewer in the drive-thru. I wonder if Tim Hortons would consider opening a location in Grand Forks? I would think that there are certainly enough Canadian shoppers in town that would patronize a Tim Hortons.