The wait is over. After months spent gutting and renovating the building that used to hold the Speakeasy, the Spitfire has opened its doors to an eager Detroit Lakes public.
Tim and Mary Olson had hoped to open up the second location of their award-winning restaurant in September, but they ran into a number of different construction issues that pushed out that date. "Like anything, you start opening up the walls, you don't know what you're going to get into," said Tim.
They took their time, making sure everything was built exactly the way they wanted. They knocked down a number of walls, while still keeping two banquet rooms (one easily seats 30, the other 80) to host events. The bar was moved from one of the dining areas to the other, and the kitchen was opened up to display all the new equipment, like the rotisserie.
"It isn't as open as our West Fargo location," said Tim, but it still has the same watch-your-meal-cook vibe, almost like being at a neighborhood BBQ, which, coincidentally, is where Tim says the idea to open a restaurant hatched for him and Mary.
Tim says he's had a passion for cooking since he was very young. He learned his way around a kitchen thanks to his mom, and later he gained a taste for smoking foods in Oklahoma. When he moved back to the Fargo area, he ordered a smoker all the way from Texas and started hosting barbeques and playing with different recipes.
"They weren't always good," he joked, adding that creating his secret sauces and dry rubs can be somewhat a game of guess and test, but it's what he loves to do.
From their backyard, Tim and Mary expanded to a food truck in the Fargo-Moorhead area for a while before they finally took the leap and opened the first Spitfire in the city.
"We almost had a cult following from when we had the food truck in the K-mart parking lot," said Tim.
Expansion was a difficult decision though, for Tim it meant trusting his secret recipes with more and more people. In Detroit Lakes alone, the kitchen staffs about 14 cooks, and over all the restaurant has about 30 workers. But they have quickly become like family, someone for Tim to bounce cuisine ideas off.
"The kitchen has been doing really well. We trained them in West Fargo. They actually ran our kitchen in West Fargo for a few days," said Mary.
They've got a good handle on the new kitchen equipment that gives the Spitfire's food that signature taste: two smokers, the rotisserie, and the wood-fire grill, which Tim says "really enhances the flavor profile of the food."
"I think we bring something different to the area," said Tim, adding that they sit under that "upscale-casual" classification. "We kind of have that niche."
With brick detailing, a full custom-built island bar, and custom-built tables inside and a new outdoor patio complete with four fire features, a water feature, and tv's, the place feels like a brand new building.
Going forward, Tim says they hope to also get into the off-site catering, once they have all the kinks worked out at the restaurant.
"We're excited about the opportunities for that down here," he said, adding, "We're excited to be here! We had been looking to expand. We looked at a lot of cities, and we chose Detroit Lakes."
And Detroit Lakes seems to have welcomed them with open arms.
"We've had a good welcoming," said Tim. "Michael Mercil was in on our soft opening and some of the Speakeasy staff, too. They were really, really happy to see it."