Story and photos by Sarah Bauman
Mass comm major
Nichole’s Fine Pastry in downtown Fargo recently expanded, occupying two storefronts and doubling its space. Minda Ringdahl, kitchen manager and cake decorator at Nichole’s, said the main reasons for the expansion were extra seating and extra kitchen space. Before the expansion, employees would have to turn customers away because there wasn’t enough seating, and chefs would come in around the clock to get everything made and ready by opening. Now, with twice the kitchen space and more than double the amount of seating, business is booming and customers can call ahead to reserve tables in the new seating area.
A place for everything
With 15 people on staff, about half of whom do baking and food preparation, a larger kitchen was a necessity. In the smaller kitchen, five chefs would often be working at once in close quarters, sometimes having to use the restaurant’s tables to hold pastries and baking sheets.
Ringdahl said having a space in the kitchen just for cake decorating has helped tremendously. Wedding cake sales have nearly tripled, going from two per week to five or six per week. There is also a spot now just for preparing lunch items, which have become very popular.
New menu items are in the works
In the next few months, Ringdahl would like to see hot sandwiches and more salads added to the lunch menu. She’d also like to add plated desserts paired with dessert wines on weekend evenings. Adding new menu items would also mean adding more staff. All the new business has meant a lot of extra work for the employees at Nichole’s, and they want to make sure they have the best products and service possible before offering anything new, said Ringdahl.
New look, new clientele
Ringdahl said the average customers before the expansion were women middle-aged and older; by adding new menu items and keeping up with trends and prices, Nichole’s is attracting a variety of new customers. The preconception that menu items are expensive and only for an older crowd is being ushered away, said Ringdahl. No matter their age, customers at Nichole’s have a high appreciation for the quality of the food and the amount of work that goes into each menu item.
Local, quality products are best
The chefs at Nichole’s pride themselves on making everything from scratch, and using natural, local products whenever possible. They get flour and honey from Tochi Products in downtown Fargo, said Ringdahl, and are considering adding an organic item to the menu. Organic products require a lot more work and extra ingredients, but customers have asked for organic food in the past.
From soups to lunches to breakfast items to the new space, it’s been one addition after another at Nichole’s. Ringdahl calls it an evolution from when the shop first opened with a mere fraction of the products available now. And the selection at Nichole’s will continue to grow.
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday.
To see Nichole’s full seasonal menu, wedding cakes and prices, visit nicholesfinepastry.com.