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Rush is on to fill South Park Plaza

Posted 10/16/13 (Wed)

Rush is on to fill South Park Plaza

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

The opening of Cash Wise grocery store, Cash Wise Liquor, and Alco was only the beginning for the South Park Plaza development. From now until the end of November, the current occupants of South Park Plaza will be getting some new neighbors when China Express, American Smoke Wagon, Mailbox Solutions, Red Wing, Taco John’s, Saddle Up and Z Wireless open for business.
On top of that new construction, just north of Watford City the area’s first multi-use business community has already begun construction and is looking to open to its Phase I occupants by December.
John Tennant, owner of Watford City’s first multi-use business community, had a vision almost two years ago for developing something that would meet both Watford City’s need for housing as well as retail and/or office space.
His development concept features a multi-level complex with street-level retail stores, and condominiums in the spaces above. He is also building duplex units in the space behind the retail/living complex.
“This is a live/work-type of environment for people who are working out of a trailer or truck and are looking to get out of that situation,” states Tennant. “But we have also had a lot of interest from attorneys and accountants.”
According to Tennant, he has received interest in his development from people wanting to open a small restaurant, McKenzie County Guaranty and Title, the Watford City Area Chamber of Commerce and from businesses opening in South Park Plaza who are needing housing for their employees.
Tennant states that he will build in three phases. Phase I will include asphalt, six duplex units, and seven buildings ranging from one to three stories tall. Phase two and three will break ground in the spring and he hopes to have them completely rented out or sold by next year. All three phases combined will feature 19 multi-story buildings.
As for new happenings in the South Park Plaza, China Express opened for business on Friday, Oct. 11. And their promised Happy Joe’s Pizza will arrive in two to three weeks, according to ‘Jeff’ Lin, owner of the China Express restaurant.
China Express is part of a chain of 40 restaurants, that includes the Sakura Japanese Steakhouse, and has locations in New York, Georgia, Florida, and Minnesota, as well as North Dakota.
Cunju Lin, called Jeff, states that he tried to open a China Express in New Town 23 years ago and it failed.
“When we first opened a store in Stanley about a year ago, it was our first try in a small town and it did very well,” states Lin.
Then, five months ago, Lin gave New Town another try and found it to be very successful the second time around, which is also what gave him the confidence to give Watford City a shot.
“China Express is good for an oil town because people can take their food to go if they want, but they can also sit down with their families,” states Lin.
Lin states that he hopes his restaurant will do well in Watford City and that he hopes to be in the town for a long time.
The restaurant is set up like a mall food court. There are 20 different menu choices and customers can come and go right away.
Lin states that three of his employees are training with Happy Joe’s Pizza, and in two to three weeks, he will be able to add that to their menu selections.
Next in line to open is the American Smoke Wagon restaurant, Mailbox Solutions, and Red Wing.
Bill Nichols, owner of the American Smoke Wagon restaurant, states that he would not trade his space in South Park Plaza for anything.
“We have been doing business here in Watford City for roughly three years in a food truck south on U.S. 85,” states Nichols. “We have enjoyed being here. But the food truck business tends to be more seasonal because people do not like waiting for their food in the cold. We started looking for an opportunity to open a restaurant and found South Park Plaza.”
His restaurant, American Smoke Wagon, will serve all homemade, made fresh daily, pulled pork, brisket, chicken and sausage.
“People will come in and order, get a number and sit at a table in our dining area,” states Nichols. “Then their food will be brought to them by a runner.”
While eating, customers can enjoy big screen TVs playing Country Music Videos, ESPN, and news stations. In addition to TVs, the interior walls will be decorated with pictures of people who lived in North Dakota from the 1880s to the 1920s. People who, as Nichols states, are known throughout the area for their contributions to North Dakota.
“We have been very busy with our business in North Dakota,” states Nichols. “We hope to continue that trend by selling the best food every day, and making sure our interior is attractive and inviting to our guests.”
Mailbox Solutions owner, David VanAsche, states that he also moved to North Dakota two years ago, but with a different concept in mind.
“I opened a Mailbox Solutions store in February in Williston because I found that a lot of people need this service,” states VanAsche. “People need to have a permanent physical address so they receive their mail, as well as send and receive packages.”
VanAsche’s store does just that, in addition to offering printing services for signs, blueprints, binders and more. Mailbox Solutions also keeps packing materials on hand in order to pack and ship packages.
“You can drop your post office and FedEx packages here, too, even if we don’t pack them,” states VanAsche.
VanAsche is also working on a text messaging system that will alert his customers when their packages arrive.
“People do not have time to come and check the store every day, so we will send them a text message and it will make receiving a package more convenient to them,” states VanAsche.
Finally, the Red Wing store, more commonly known as Red Wing Shoes, will be much larger than their usual 1,500-square foot retail store, according to Marisa Dille, director of  Real Estate Development.  
“This is a new endeavor for us,” states Dille. “We are not just carrying footwear, but FR garments as well.”
Dille states that the entire footprint of the Red Wing store will be dedicated to boots and garments for the oil patch worker.
“We have been selling FR gear globally for many years now, so we are going to give selling locally a try.”
In addition to footwear and clothing for the oil industry, Red Wing will sell care products and oilfield accessories, such as gloves, work socks, etc.
All three stores are shooting for a Thanksgiving to early December opening.
According to Oppidan, Taco John’s, Saddle Up Western Wear, Tractor Supply Company and Z Wireless will also be opening stores in South Park Plaza by December.