Cooking cousins: Quartet of cousins, former Texas Roadhouse cooks, open Dakota Boys Restaurant Thursday in Mayville

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Posted: Friday, March 8, 2019 6:30 am

Mayville – After working at a variety of Grand Forks restaurants for years, Ryan Berg and his business partners figured they’d start small when it came time to branch out.

They’d buy a food truck and build up a loyal fan base before opening their own restaurant inside a brick-and-mortar building.

Those plans were tossed out the window last summer after Kory Berg, one of Ryan’s cousins, spotted a Facebook ad for an empty restaurant building for sale in Mayville.

Months after buying the former Whistle Stop Restaurant, the Bergs – along with Ford Dargan and Daniel Domino, two more cousins – opened the Dakota Boys Restaurant on Thursday on the eastern outskirts of Mayville. The debut of the family-style diner along Highway 200 has been months in the making.

But for Ryan Berg, who moved from Grand Forks to Mayville in December, the opening allows him to achieve a dream he’s been chasing for decades.

“I’m excited. I’ve wanted to do this for 20 years,” said the former kitchen manager at Texas Roadhouse in Grand Forks. “I needed something that would satisfy me and something that would be mine. This is what I’ve always wanted to do.”

Few local restaurants make their debuts with more collective cooking experience than the owners of the Dakota Boys Restaurant.

Ryan Berg, 41, landed his first job at age 14 as a dishwasher and overnight cook at the Highway Host restaurant in Grand Forks.

Since then, he’s worked at Texas Roadhouse, Al’s Grill and Catering and Italian Moon in Grand Forks and the Blue Moose Bar & Grill and Seasons Family Restaurant in nearby East Grand Forks, Minn.

Ford started busing tables at age 14 at the Village Inn in Grand Forks.

The 38-year-old cook managed the grills inside the Big Sioux Cafe and Shangri-La, a Chinese restaurant west of the University of North Dakota campus.

He worked alongside Domino and the Bergs for years at Texas Roadhouse.

Ford said he jumped at the chance to open a restaurant with Ryan Berg, calling him the “best restaurant guy I’ve ever met.”

“He grows on you – kind of like a fungus,” Ford said, laughing. “But he’s actually great. And that’s what the allure is to working with him in a venture like this.”

The cousin quartet bought the Whistle Stop building on Sept. 5 and has been prepping the former Mayville Pizza Hut for its grand opening for months.

The restaurant will specialize in being a family-oriented, sit-down diner with an all-day soup and salad bar for customers.

“We’ll be offering everything from burgers to chicken sandwiches to steaks and pizza,” Kory Berg said. “We’ll hit a bit of everything to fulfill everyone’s wants for a meal.”

“Offering homemade is our thing,” Ford said. “We all love to cook and we all want to bring home-cooked, quality food to this community.”

The group of four will start as the restaurant’s only staff, although more workers will be needed in the future, Ryan Berg said.

He said the group is looking forward to introducing themselves to Mayville residents.

The new business owners want to connect with the community, he said.

“As we started meeting with the building’s previous owners and started negotiations, the town really started to grow on us quite a bit,” Ford said.

“This started out as an opportunity to do what we wanted to do. But as it grew, it’s become an opportunity to get involved with this community.”

Ryan Berg said he’s happy to lift the veil on the restaurant, which had people guessing for months about the building’s new tenant.

He squashed a rumor that the former Pizza Hut building was being converted into Traill County’s first and only snowboard and surfboard shop.

“That was one of the rumors we heard,” Ryan Berg said.

“That might be a good contingency plan,” Ford said, laughing.

First-year restaurants have a high mortality rate compared to other businesses, so what will make or break the Dakota Boys Restaurant as the restaurant gets going?

“Realistically, in a small town, it’s all about performance,” Ryan Berg said. “You have to have certain standards and that’s something we can bring to the table.”

Having good food will help, too, Ford said.

“We can all cook really well. Every day, we have to keep up on our game and don’t back down. It’s all about integrity and perseverance,” he said.

Kory Berg said the group has plans for expansion, including outfitting food trucks to serve food at local county fairs and street dances, possibly as soon as this summer.

“This is something we’ve all wanted for a while and we’re finally getting the chance to make something ours,” he said.

“We’re pretty excited to open,” Ryan Berg added. “We want to make a great first impression on people.”

More information on the Dakota Boys Restaurant can be found on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

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