Posted 12/30/13 (Mon)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
At the beginning of 2012, when the lot south of Watford City adjacent to the N.D. Highway 23 bypass sat bare and undeveloped, it was hard to imagine that a China Express restaurant, an Alco, a Red Wing, a Z Wireless, a Cash Wise grocery store and a Cash Wise liquor store would eventually be there.
But in a year’s time, that and so much more has happened. The South Park Plaza parking lot never seems to be empty, and according to Jay Moore of Oppidan Group, the developer for the South Park Plaza, there is only more to come.
“It is really nice to see all these businesses open up to the public,” states Moore. “We take great pleasure in seeing the plans that we have been making for the better part of 1½ years come to life.”
The most recent retail to open in South Park has been the Z Wireless store on the northeast corner of the development and the Red Wing store on the southwest corner.
Next in line to open is the American Smoke Wagon restaurant and Saddle Up Western Wear.
Bill Nichols, owner of the American Smoke Wagon restaurant, states that he started in a food trailer and would not trade his space in South Park Plaza for anything.
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.
Nichols states that he is really excited to get started. He hopes to hire about 12 to 14 employees in the next month and expects to be open by Feb. 1, 2014, as does Mark Sparby of Saddle Up Western Wear.
Saddle Up is a business that has been located on Watford City’s Main Street in the basement of the American Legion building for roughly two years. But according to Sparby, it is time to upgrade.
“We have been so busy that we have just grown out of our store’s current location,” states Sparby.
Currently, Saddle Up Western Wear occupies an 1,100-square foot space. Sparby states that his new store will not only more than double that, with 2,500 square feet of retail showroom, but will be bright, vibrant and open.
“People will just have to come and see the new store,” states Sparby. “Especially our regulars who are used to our basement decor.”
Sparby will sell an assortment of men’s, women’s and children’s western wear clothing, boots and accessories.
“We will have everything for everyone’s needs,” states Sparby. “We carry the newest and latest western wear fashion, but also the older trends.”
In addition, Saddle Up will carry a work line of FR clothing as well as saddles and tack.
Sparby states that the store’s official opening depends on when the utilities can be hooked up. He hopes his doors will open within the month, but will not have a grand opening until April.
Moore also states that coming soon is a Mailbox Solutions, Tractor Supply Company and Taco John’s.
Mailbox Solutions owner, David VanAsche, moved to North Dakota two years ago and got his start in Williston. In February of 2012, VanAsche opened a Mailbox Solutions store there because he saw the need for people to be able to have a permanent physical address, so they can receive their mail as well as send packages.
His store was such a big hit in Williston that he decided to branch to Watford City. VanAsche’s Mailbox Solutions store not only offers permanent physical addresses to the public, but it also offers 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.
Moore states that the Tractor Supply Company store is owned by the same company that owns the store in Williston and Minot.
“They want to be in the heart of the Bakken and what is going on around here,” states Moore.
The Tractor Supply Company owners are building two stores simultaneously - the one in Watford City and one in Stanley.
Moore states that they expect the Watford City store to open by March 12 and the Stanley store to open a week later on March 19.
The Taco John’s restaurant is owned by a Minot company and their store will be located next to the Saddle Up Western Wear store and Z Wireless.
As for Oppidan, they too, will have a storefront in South Park Plaza, where Moore states they hope to maintain a presence in Watford City.
“We have fallen in love with Watford City and what it has to offer,” states Moore. “South Park Plaza is our first retail project in Watford City, but we hope to do many other real estate ventures in the future.”
Moore states that Oppidan has two other offices, one in Minnetonka, Minn., and one in San Jose, Calif. The Watford City office will be their third office and it will initially be open three or four days a week until they can get it fully staffed.