The owners of Fargo’s Pizza intend to reopen the Old West-themed, family favorite restaurant that closed this week in Colorado Springs after nearly a half century.
They just don’t know when.
For now, Fargo’s will remain closed at least through Jan. 1 and probably longer, said Dave Lavin of suburban Seattle. Lavin, his wife, Paula, and Paula’s brother, Evan Gardner, compose the restaurant’s ownership; Paula and Evan are the daughter and son of one of the founders of Fargo’s.
Asked if Fargo’s might close permanently, Lavin acknowledged, “under the category of anything’s possible, I guess it’s possible.” He added, however, the owners’ intent is to reopen.
“It’s COVID related,” Lavin said this week, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “So until things turn around with that, the chances are slim that we would open.”
The last day for Fargo’s, 2910 E. Platte Ave, was Sunday, and the restaurant posted “temporary” closure notices on its front door, website and Facebook page. It laid off about 50 full- and part-time employees as part of the closure, Lavin said.
Fargo’s has been profitable from the day it opened in 1973, but has been losing money after the onset of the pandemic in March led the state to impose dining room closures and capacity limits at restaurants throughout the year, he said.
“Sales were off to the level that we couldn’t sustain a profit,” Lavin said.
The out-of-state owners, whom Lavin said have taken a relatively hands-off approach to the day-to-day operations of Fargo’s, don’t yet know what factors might influence their decision to reopen.
“We’re still kind of in the process of kind of shutting things down, getting people’s final paychecks out there and all that stuff,” Lavin said. “We haven’t really had time to stop and just assess how long we think this is going to be the situation.”
The closure of Fargo’s has led to an outpouring of support from generations of longtime restaurantgoers, some of whom said they went there growing up and now, as parents, have brought their kids to the eatery.
“We hold our customer base in high regard,” Lavin said. “We’re so thankful for them, for their patronage and their outcrying of support for the restaurant. That’s very important to us.
“It’s a given,” he said, “that if we run into someone who has lived in Colorado Springs for any length of time, we usually bring up Fargo’s, and without fail, I get a similar response, that, ‘oh my gosh, our soccer team went there every week after games or we went there for birthday parties. We’ve been there hundreds of times.'”
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this year has been devastating for restaurants, among other businesses and industries.
Dining rooms were ordered closed in March by Gov. Jared Polis as a means of halting the spread of the coronavirus. They were allowed to reopen at 50% capacity in late May.
By early November, restrictions in El Paso County further reduced indoor seating levels. On Nov. 27, indoor dining rooms in Colorado Springs and El Paso County again were ordered closed and restaurants have been limited to outdoor, takeout, curbside and delivery service.
Fargo’s, a family-style restaurant, features pizza, pasta, sandwiches, soups, a salad bar, desserts and soft drinks, while its bar offers beer and wine.
The restaurant was launched by brothers Leon and Landon Gardner, who devised a fanciful story about a mountain town gambler named Fargo and his love interest, Sophia, the daughter of Italian nobility who came to the U.S. with only her family’s old Italian food recipes. The idea proved a hit with local residents.
The expansive, two-level, 500-seat dining room at Fargo’s was decorated to resemble a dance hall/saloon, including Fargo and Sophia mannequins, big-game trophies, chandeliers from a Detroit theater and used mirrors that displayed order numbers to notify customers when food orders were ready.
Arcade games, employees dressed in Old West period attire and other features also made Fargo’s popular for family outings, birthday parties and special occasion gatherings.
Landon Gardner died in 1998; Leon died in 2011. When Leon’s widow, Barbara, died in 2015, the restaurant’s ownership passed to Paula and Evan, Dave Lavin said.
This content was originally published here.