A Canadian pizza chain is now open for business in West Fargo as the franchise gears up for big growth in the U.S.

Boston's Pizza opened Monday, Aug. 28, in the former Applebee's, 1640 13th Ave. E., which operated there from September 2012 until closing in February. The building was a Ruby Tuesday restaurant before that.

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As the name implies, pizza is the star of the menu here. Operating Partner Tyler Birkland, a Saskatchewan native who also owns a Boston's in Prince Albert, Canada, said the franchise's take on pizza starts with dough made fresh each morning. It's then proofed for 24 hours before it gets hand-tossed and loaded up with cheese and toppings.

Boston's also offers thin crust and "gluten-wise" crust options.

He said customers so far have enjoyed the ultimate pepperoni pizza, which has fontina and mozzarella cheese and two cuts of pepperoni, as well as its Mama Meata that has Bolognese sauce, ham, pepperoni, beef and Italian sausage.

But with more than 80 items on the menu, Birkland said there's "something for everybody" at the restaurant.

"We're not just pizza," he said.

Other items include appetizers, salads, pasta, calzones, burgers, sandwiches and desserts.

Modern sports bar

Birkland said the West Fargo restaurant is considered a "flagship" of the chain, boasting an "upscale" look and modern, clean design in its family dining area open to customers of all ages.

Boston's Pizza also has a large sports lounge with 17 TVs, but he said a three-month renovation that gutted the interior of the former Applebee's deliberately made this sports bar area bright, clean and welcoming for its adult patrons.

Like many pizza places in town, Boston's offers delivery of its full menu to West Fargo, Fargo and Moorhead. But its kitchen stays open late, operating until 2 a.m. weekdays and Saturdays and 1 a.m. Sundays, a relative rarity in the community.

It's not the first time this Canadian franchise has come to North Dakota. A Boston's Pizza opened in Grand Forks in 2005 and closed in 2008.

It's also not the only American location for the brand, which has nearly 400 restaurants in Canada and 28 so far in the U.S., including in Texas, Ohio and Michigan. It's the only one right now in North Dakota and the immediate area-there is a Boston's in Rapid City, S.D., and Coon Rapids, Minn., as well.

If things go according to plan, Birkland said he and franchise partners Gregg Most and Jim Werschler will open more Boston's in North Dakota in the coming years. The group is specifically targeting Bismarck, Minot and Fargo, according to a news release earlier this year, and Birkland said they have the brand's territory rights for all of the state as well as Moorhead.

He said Boston's Pizza is gearing up for big growth with plans to open 20 restaurants each year in America over the next three years to get to 100 locations here.

The chain has done well for more than 50 years with its focus on quality ingredients, fresh dough and a philosophy of "a bite in every bite" that aims to get toppings on each bite of pizza, he said.

Business profile

What: Boston's Pizza

Where: 1640 13th Ave. E., West Fargo

Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday

Phone: (701) 532-2220

Online: www.facebook.com/bostonswestfargo