Nestled snugly along U.S. Highway 2 & 52 between Minot and Burlington, a popular local restaurant is once again open for business after spending more than a year in hibernation.
Speedway, located at 7101 U.S. Highway 2 & 52 W., reopened Oct. 26 under new ownership after being closed since June 30, 2009. While the location is the same, there is a new phone number - 838-8008.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m.
The new owners, Brian Szablewski and Brad Damm, are both certified executive chefs. Although they have never owned their own restaurant before, they spent the past 12 years running the food service at Minot State University. Damm said they had wanted to open their own restaurant for the past four years, but no opportunities ever presented themselves.
"It's not a real big community, so there's only so many opportunities that come around," Damm said.
Szablewski and Damm wanted to provide the best dining experience possible, so they focused their efforts on expanding the dinner menu and didn't do any remodeling since the building was already in good shape.
"Keeping with the history and the good reputation that Speedway had, we didn't want to recreate the wheel. We wanted to kind of give back to the people what they've been waiting for," Damm said. "They wanted Speedway to open."
"Old favorites and new surprises," Szablewski added.
Damm said Speedway has done well in the past, so they wanted to stay with the same decor and style of service that people were accustomed to. The basics of serving good food and providing good service are what they are hanging their hat on.
"We realized that one of the big draws to the Speedway was it was no-nonsense. It was just come in and have a good dinner, a reasonably-priced menu, and that was our goal. The goal is to keep it reasonable, to want people to come out," Damm said. "We don't want to have a special-occasion restaurant, we want to have an everyday restaurant."
Though they want to be an everyday restaurant, that doesn't mean they don't do special occasions. Along with the main dining room, there are additional rooms in the back. Szablewski said they are currently booking Christmas parties.
While much has stayed the same, including Speedway's legendary orange sauce, Szablewski and Damm put their combined 63 years of food service experience to work and created many new items for the menu that are uniquely theirs.
"I would probably say it's the most extensive steak menu in the city," Szablewski said. "We roast our prime rib fresh every day, it's not brought in precooked like a lot of places do. (It's) roasted for a minimum of five hours."
Damm added they have all the classic cuts of steaks, including a 24-ounce porterhouse, and feature smaller and larger sizes depending on customer appetite.
Beyond the steaks, there's plenty of other additions to the menu. For seafood lovers a 20-ounce lobster tail is sure to please.
Something both men are excited about is the features board, which has items not found on the regular menu. It changes every two weeks, which is long enough for people to come in and try them out and short enough to keep things fresh and exciting.
"Those would be something that ... (is) currently not on the menu, and it would be anything that either one of us has done in the past or something new that we come up with," Szablewski said. "We want our features to be a feature that you don't find on the menu."
Another new feature at the bar is draft beer, which Speedway hasn't had before.
So far the combo plates with 4- or 8-ounce sirloin steaks and either lobster or crab have been very popular, and the prime rib has had good sales. Damm said the items on the features board have also done very well, and he expects that to continue.
"That's what we're hoping for. You want to have somebody come out and have something that's completely new," Damm said. "They come out and have the same old, same old, that's great too, but you want to have them go, 'Oh, I had this out there the other day and they only have it for two weeks.'"
It's not just items on the menu that are a blend of old and new, either. Of the 28 employees currently at Speedway, six were there before Szablewski and Damm took over.
So far business has been very good, with Szablewski noting three people recently told them they have the best steaks in town. Damm said they are still working to make Speedway run as smoothly as possible, and every new experience can be learned from to improve things in the future.
While things are going well just the way they are, Damm said they are thinking about expanding their hours to include lunch in the future. If they started serving lunch, it wouldn't happen until February or March of next year. That would give them time to get the dinner menu down to a science as well as decide what the lunchtime hours would be.
"We really want to focus on putting enough time into doing dinner very successfully before we take on something else," Damm said.