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Richard Benson, owner of Hooligans in West Fargo. Carrie Snyder/The Pioneer.

Revving up added appeal as local neighborhood bar

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Richard Benson is on a mission as the new owner-operator of Hooligan's, located at 3330 Sheyenne St. S., West Fargo. He wants to add "great neighborhood bar" to the theme of the already established successful bar-restaurant business.

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Benson said that in addition to the highly popular business offerings presently in place, Hooligan's also has "the potential to be a great neighborhood bar" and that is exactly what he is shooting for, by offering an early evening, lighter atmosphere conducive to relaxing and quiet conversation. "With all the growth in this area, I would really like to bring in a neighborhood crowd for happy hour. We still have a great younger, late-night customer base, but I really want to complement that with a happy hour crowd."

Toward that goal, Hooligan's will be offering a daily happy hour, Monday through Friday, from 5 to 7 p.m., and from noon to five p.m. on Saturday, featuring $1 off all drinks. Free chips and salsa will also be served.

Benson is no stranger to the bar and restaurant business, already familiar to a number of local patrons having served the past eight years as manager of the West Fargo VFW.

He said he had been considering operating his own business for a number of years and when Hooligan's availability presented itself, he and silent partners David Olstad of West Fargo and Brady Pederson of Glyndon, Minn. decided it "was the right fit," and acquired it from Justin Hanneson, taking over the operation about three weeks ago.

In addition to daily happy hour specials, Benson said all the standard late night specials will continue to be offered.

The menu will also remain pretty much the same, at least for the time being, featuring Hooligan's signature appetizers, like Hoolio's boneless wings with the custom-made sauces, the Lavash, and of course, the sirloin steak bull bites, traditionally served with Hoolio's gold. On the luncheon and evening menu, the famous ½ pound burger baskets, and the fresh wraps and salads will continue to be a mainstay, served with either the popular waffle or hand cut fries.

Pizza will also continue to be a menu offering, only a more exciting, enhanced version, guaranteed to be some of the best pizza you'll find anywhere in the area.

With the exception of the 'lighter atmosphere,' visitors to Hooligan's won't notice much change in the interior scheme of things. Minor adjustments will include removing the top framing in the bar area to open up the space a little more, making the entire bar area more visible as customers enter the establishment.

As for activities, Benson said he plans on offering the same 'extra' amenities that customers have grown to enjoy in the past, including the popular UFC fights and the live bands, the flavor of which he "will mix up a bit" starting Friday, Aug. 13, with local band 24-7 scheduled to play.

With 24 televisions, six of them large screen, other sporting events will also be high priority venues, with plans for NFL tickets as well as buses to the NDSU Bison games.

Benson also intends to play up the spacious outdoor patio area with seating for 60, by offering special activities and cook-out food events.

Benson said he is already feeling the community support and would like everyone who hasn't stopped in at Hooligan's for a while to do so, and check out the subtle changes that are sure to appeal to the neighborhood crowd.

He said he is looking forward to his new venture, and thoroughly enjoyed the time that lead up to it as an employee at the West Fargo VFW, where he was lucky enough to learn some important aspects of the trade. For that, he is most appreciative. "I couldn't have been treated any better than I was at the VFW. They were absolutely great to work with and everybody in West Fargo should appreciate what the VFW does for them."

Benson plans to be totally hands-on in his new role. Making that even easier is the fact that he lives conveniently close, residing in Horace with his wife, Stacey, and two children, Paige, 10, and Ryan, 4.

Hours at Hooligan's, open to customers 21-years of age and older, are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 2 a.m., on Sunday. The restaurant service is available until 10 p.m. each evening. Inquiries can be made by calling 701-373-0770.

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