WEST FARGO — Jon Long says he and his wife, Linda, have been visiting a popular West Fargo pizzeria "pretty much every Friday night since 2005."
They live just three blocks away from Ole & Lena's Pizzeria and consider the restaurant vital to the Eagle Run development and the surrounding area.
That is why the couple recently decided to purchase the business at 3330 Sheyenne St.
"It's a very long story on how we decided to take the plunge into the business world. The major motivation is we have some excellent employees and wanted to keep this restaurant in the neighborhood," Jon Long said. "We've heard that we have the third highest-rated pizza establishment in North Dakota, which is quite an accomplishment."
While business is down somewhat due to road construction on Sheyenne Street, Long hopes people will go a bit out of their way to support the restaurant known for its specialty pizzas, pasta, salads and appetizers.
"We know it's tough to find us with the current construction, but we would love to see everyone come out and join us," Long said.
Restaurant hours are 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Special pricing is available on appetizers and beer during happy hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 p.m. to close Sundays.
The establishment also offers discounts for seniors, active and retired military personnel, and members of law enforcement and other first responders.
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Shane Balken opened the original Ole & Lena's Pizzeria in Rothsay, Minn., in 2007. In December, Balken sold the restaurant to an employee who now operates Big J's Smokehouse in that space.
A second Ole & Lena's location operated in Fargo's West Acres Shopping Center from 2012 to 2015. The West Fargo store opened in 2014 in the former Goodfellas Pizza in Eagle Run Plaza.
Balken said he can't think of better people than the Longs to take over the business.
"They were the best customers I ever had. They consistently came in on the weekends. They're just awesome people," he said. "And after a few years, their daughter (Amy Lundy) started working there. You've got to have someone you can trust that's going to be there day in and day out. That's why I think it's really going to be a good fit."
Balken sold the restaurants in order to focus on his frozen pizza venture.
Ole & Lena's frozen pizzas are now sold in over 60 grocery stores, including area Cash Wise locations, convenience stores and bars.
Balken still owns the Ole & Lena's brand and was happy the Longs wanted to continue doing business under that name.
"I'm happy they want to keep it. They could have called it something else and gone with a different theme," he said. "It's definitely a win for both of us."