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Published August 30, 2011, 11:09 AM

A Hit in Grand Forks, Rhombus Guys Opens Fargo Location

FARGO – The storefront is diminutive – an unassuming Main Avenue location nestled between a coffee shop and a community church. The sign is modest. Everything else about Rhombus Guys pizza is kind of a big deal.

By: Marino Eccher, Forum Communications

FARGO – The storefront is diminutive – an unassuming Main Avenue location nestled between a coffee shop and a community church. The sign is modest. Everything else about Rhombus Guys pizza is kind of a big deal.

It’s the first expansion of the hit Grand Forks restaurant and bar, winner of that city’s best pizza contest for five years running. After months of remodeling and a furious week of preparation, it opens today.

“We figure we’ve got a good product and good service, so we thought we’d try it out in Fargo,” said Arron Hendricks, who owns the restaurant with business partner Matt Winjum. “If we do half as well here as up there, we’d be happy.”

Half as well may be a conservative goal for a location that’s actually more than twice the size of the original. The Fargo restaurant seats about 150.

The two locations have the same basic DNA: long, homemade bars, artwork from a Grand Forks artist, an extensive beer selection (there are a few dozen here), a full liquor bar, and foosball in the back (shuffleboard is coming soon).

The menu has appetizers, wraps and sandwiches, but the pizza is the star of the show. It’s not cheap – some large specialty pies can run $25 – but it’s certainly unique. Nearly every one of the 30-plus pizzas on the menu is an original recipe, from the Winstein, Winjum’s first creation (pepperoni, green olives, jalapenos), to the T-Rex (essentially every conceivable permutation of beef and pork), the pizza that keeps winning those awards.

Some are inspired by travel. The Pacific Northwest, featuring smoked salmon, came from Winjum’s visits to his brother in Seattle; the Almafi Coast, with prosciutto, goat cheese and olives, is a nod to the region of Italy where he got engaged. Others come from successful staff experiments.

“We really think of our pizza crust as a canvas,” Winjum said. “You can paint anything you want on it – you’ve just got to figure out how.”

He said the Fargo restaurant will eventually throw many of the same events as the original location: trivia nights, foosball tournaments, karaoke. There are plans to add a rooftop bar – perhaps next year – similar to the one that’s been a hit in Grand Forks.

For now, though, the owners are focused on making a good first impression here – and they’re not taking any chances. The staff of about 50 has spent the past week serving friends, family and one another to get the hang of it. A few key managers have been imported from Grand Forks to run the restaurant here.

“If you open your doors up and you’re not ready to go and word gets out around town, it’s so tough to recover from that,” Winjum said. “We are extremely serious about opening up at the top of our game.”

Hendricks and Winjum, both 30, have been in business together since they opened a smoothie stand in their hometown of Thief River Falls, Minn., a decade ago. It wasn’t quite square, giving rise to the Rhombus name.

Eccher is a reporter at the Forum in Fargo

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