Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Bison Turf Rises From The Ashes

by C.S. Hagen | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | News | May 3rd, 2017

Firefighters attempting to extinguish fire at the Bison Turf, 2016 - photo by C.S. Hagen

FARGO - After local watering hole Bison Turf caught fire last July, owner James “Pete” Sabo never doubted he would reopen.

It was only a matter of timing, he said.

Originally, he planned to open last October. Red tape, building permits, and a new water line for an indoor sprinkling system costing him $90,000, set him back months. The entire project will cost up to $1.2 million dollars, a price tag for which insurance companies are coughing up approximately two-thirds, he said.

“It’s been a nightmare,” Sabo said. “But I love this place. I hated to shut down, but I know this is an important piece of land.”

Investors from Minneapolis offered what could almost amount to a blank check for the property, he said.

He refused.

Sabo is the second owner of the establishment since its 1934 opening as a drive-in featuring servers on roller skates called the Hasty Tasty. The back of the bar was added in 1957 after the tornado tore the roof off, yet strangely left the napkins and cutlery untouched on the tabletops.

Although his initial plans for a quick reopening were not realized, the time he’s had to rethink the layout has had its benefits.

“All the waiting, making me jump through all the hoops, but now that it’s taking shape, I’m glad I went through it all.” Electricians, plumbers, and construction crews permitting, he pJames Sabo before his burning restaurant in July 2016 - photo by C.S. Hagenlans to reopen in June, in time for customers to enjoy an outside second-floor beer garden large enough to seat dozens of people. A room behind the outside area will feature sliding glass doors and a 14-foot-long 1932 mahogany bar built and formerly used in the Iron Range.

“I think it will be the best view of any rooftop patio in town,” Sabo said. The view from the patio looking west includes NDSU president’s house and manicured lawn, a busy one-way street teeming with cars, pedestrians, and college students.

Inside, both original bar tables - front and back - remain. Parts of the front facade also escaped damage from the fire, and he’s mixing them into the establishment’s new design. Although starting from scratch could have saved Sabo money, he wanted to keep the original curved glass blocks designed by a North Dakota State University architectural teacher in the front windows.

“I thought it was important to keep it,” Sabo said.

The fire originated from a faulty exhaust fan, Sabo said. Years of collected grease helped turn the flames into a conflagration that firefighters spent hours trying to extinguish. The Bison Turf fire was one of the worst blazes in Fargo during 2016, Fargo Fire Chief Steve Dirksen told Fargo City Commissioners.

Downtown Fargo’s fire station is the city’s busiest, receiving 3,300 calls for help in 2016. As Fargo continues to grow, other city sections are catching up, Dirksen said, which has prompted the department to plan for two additional city response sections. In all, the city’s fire departments responded to 243 fires in 2016.

“We had some significant fires last year,” Dirksen said. “We had the Bison Turf fire last year, which kicked our fire loss numbers up, but cooking fires tend to be our biggest number of fires.”

James Sabo during on patio during construction - photo by C.S. Hagen

The city responded to a total of 33 fires sparked by cigarettes or from smoking materials. “Balcony fires and exterior fires are generally people-caused fires, it was either they were not attending to their cooking or carelessly discarding their smoking materials.” Such fires saw a decrease from the previous year because of “Operation Butt Out,” an educational program that attempts to raise awareness about cigarette smoking.

In 2016, the city also responded to a total of 82 building fires that caused financial losses to small family houses of $737,140. Bars and nightclubs suffered a total of $425,000 in damages. Fires caused $374,740 worth of damage to multi family homes, and $278,600 to restaurants.

Total losses due to fire damage in Fargo in 2016 were reported to jump to $2,744,485, a sizable increase in the recent downward trend for Fargo.

From 2012, which saw fire losses of $2,748,123, the city has experienced less and less damage caused by fire, reaching a recent low of $1,269,244 in 2015. Last year’s spike was caused primarily due to structural damage, such as the July 2016 fire at the Bison Turf on North University.

Such an increase can affect insurance rates for city residents, Dirksen said. “We’re one step away from being a Class 1,” he said. An Insurance Service Office rating of “1” is the highest score a fire protection community can receive, with 10 being the lowest, according to Fire Service Info Network. Insurance Service Office agents rate cities and provide the information to insurance companies. Research is conducted on fire hydrant distances, firefighter numbers, response times, and training hours.

Currently in the USA, approximately 40 fire departments have achieved Class 1 status, according to the Fire Service Info Network.

With a goal of arriving on scene within eight minutes and 12 seconds from time of call, the Fargo Fire Department is ahead of projections with an average response 90 percent of the time of eight minutes and seven seconds, and fifty-five percent of the time at five minutes and 39 seconds, Dirksen said.

“We actually want to do better than that, traffic, congestion, icy roads, some of these things slow us down from time to time.”

Medical emergency calls keep the Fargo Fire Department the busiest with nearly 6,400 calls in 2016, Dirksen said. Fargo Fire Department personnel began carrying NARCAN, an opioid overdose medication, since June 2016, and administered the drug 13 times, Dirksen reported.

Firefighters battling Bison Turf blaze - photo by C.S. Hagen

Sabo doesn’t plan to alter the Bison Turf’s menu, and wants to keep the same ambiance. During the daytime local residents make up most of his customer base, and it’s usually after 10 p.m. when the college kids come pouring in, he said.

“It’s really going to be much of the same thing: good hamburgers, low costing beers,” Sabo said.

Recently in:

Sophia Wilansky says she’s lucky she’s right handed. Since nearly losing her left arm from an exploding projectile on Backwater Bridge one year ago, cooking has become a tedious art. She can no longer be involved in circus…

The Transgender Day of Remembrance memorializes the trans individuals who have lost their lives due to violence this year. It is a day where we read their names and remember them—not how they died, but how they lived. This is also…

Thursday, November 16, 7-9pmUnglued, 408 Broadway N, FargoProof Artisan Distillers and Unglued present a craft party with four distinct projects and help from artists Ashley from AENDEE and Nicole Rae, not to mention a special…

“The experience of all ages has proved that the people constantly give away their liberties.” - John Adams“Man’s dishonesty with himself is his greatest enemy. When he makes a mistake, his memory admits, ‘I have done…

The thoughts and prayers of politicians will finally be answeredWe have had 307 mass shootings (four kills or more) so far in 2017, including the last one in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 mortals attending church, aged 18…

For the third week in a row, our panel of judges were out on the town with a thirst for cocktails and a focus on presentation, flavor, and creativity. This week’s adventures took us to a couple of hotspots in south Fargo, as the…

Colder weather, changing leaves, pumpkin spice and more are some of the few things that come to mind when many think of fall. But fall is about much more than sugary lattes and scarves, and you can fully indulge in fall flavors at…

I’m told that there is nothing quite like a live Green Jelly show, where anarchy and foam puppets reign. So perhaps it’s in the spirit of the upcoming show that my intended interview with the mastermind and vocalist behind the…

On Tuesday, November 14 at 7pm, the Fargo Theatre hosted a screening of “The Mission of Herman Stern,” a feature-length documentary chronicling the remarkable humanitarian efforts of the North Dakota businessman and founder, in…

Would you like to escape your stressful daily life with a relaxing arts event? Do you like to meet with old friends and make new ones? Or maybe you would like to start your Christmas and Holiday shopping early. FMVA has the event…

Ted Larson introduced me to Chris Jacobs one evening at Weld Hall in the late 1980s. I was in high school then, but Chris recognized fellow film fanatics, and we would chat a little bit each week. I learned quickly that he loved…

Humor

​Talking to strangers

by Sabrina Hornung

“I don’t have a tour, like, on the back of a sweatshirt,” comedian Paula Poundstone says. “I go out every weekend. This weekend I went out Friday, Saturday and Monday. Mostly it’s Friday/Saturday or Thursday through…

Believe it or not, “The Holidays” are upon us. If you’ve been to Target lately, and I know you have, you may have noticed that the Christmahanakwanzika stuff is already up (if you’re unsure of that term, Google it).In fact,…

Essential oils. They are all the buzz lately. It seems everyone has heard of them or is purchasing them. Some people know how to use them; others are just interested in the wonder of their complex scents.Essential oils are as…

Live and Learn

​The other shoe

by HPR Contributor

By Elizabeth Nawrotnawrot@mnstate.eduI look up from my hotel lobby breakfast astonished to see a framed print of Wassily Kandinsky's "Mit und Gegen,” a masterpiece of color and composition that just happens to be my favorite…

By Anthony Paul [Editor’s note: This piece contains language that some readers may find offensive]It has been all over social media and the news lately, how our president and commander-in-chief called and spoke with one of these…