There once was a time when Steve Stenehjem of Watford City wanted to actually pursue a restaurant career.
Instead, he opted to bank on something else, but never closed the doors and kept his options open.
As of today the Stenehjem family is pleased to present the Outlaws' Bar & Grill, which is now open for business in downtown Watford City.
Plans call for the new facility to offer a lunch and dinner menu seven days per week.
While it took nearly 30 years to get to this point, at least for Steve, it was a matter of including the restaurant in a complex that covers an entire city block.
That area also includes a new building which will house the corporate headquarters for First International Bank & Trust Co., along with 6 Shooters' Showhall & Cafe.
Making up the 6 Shooters are Steve and his wife Gretchen, along with their four children Peter, Erik, Kira and Kristen.
Family members will play a key role in the overall operation and assist wherever they are needed.
On Monday evening the first of two practice rounds was held, to allow some time for staff and management to go through stations and work out any loose ends before dealing with the general public.
During that time Steve, a 1973 graduate of Watford City High School, related how Outlaws' Bar & Grill came to be.
It was following graduation from the University of North Dakota in 1977, with a degree in banking and finance in hand, he was off to Scottsdale, Ariz., where he began work as a waiter in the restaurant business.
Steve recalled when he interviewed for that job he told the supervisor he was interested in the restaurant business as a career and wanted to learn as much as possible.
BACK TO BANKING
After one year he decided it might be best to pursue a career in the banking business and came back to Bismarck, along with a stint in Mankato, Minn., working for Banco, which later became Norwest, to eventually be bought out by Wells Fargo.
While working in Mankato Steve and Gretchen became aquainted.
It was in 1982 he joined the family banking business as they returned to Watford City.
Today he serves as president and CEO, with the corporate headquarters secure in his home town.
“When we decided to keep the headquarters here we thought this is something our community needs,” said Steve, in reference to the steakhouse and theaters.
“When we began to build it, that was the time to do it right.”
TOUCH OF WILLISTON
A number of Williston businesses and employees have had a huge hand in bringing this entire project to life.
You will immediately notice an elegant touch in the new restaurant as the craftsmen at Williston Woodworks have built the bar, hostess stand and provided the woodwork trim.
Steve credits John Haskins of Williston Woodworks as, “just a pleasure to work with, “while adding, “they have done a great job.”
Steve notes the bar “sets off” the entire feel for the place, giving it what he describes as a “comfortable old feeling.”
Selid Plumbing, with David Selid lending the talent of Dale Papineau and Brian Conover, took care of all the necessary structural details.
Meanwhile, Jeff Strand led the task of overseeing the massive wiring end of things for Donn Hoffelt and the gang at Triangle Electric.
With the size of the project two companies combined to serve as general contractors, with Beard of Watford City and Mackley of Minot joining hands in the venture.
Gretchen, who holds an elementary teaching degree, also has dabbled in the food industry dating back to her days working at the Sirloin Stockade.
These days she is also kept busy with working at the bank and the added task of raising four children.
She has been working with the contractors, while overseeing the progress meetings for nearly two years.
A number of the contractors and employees joined with bank employees and other guests to enjoy the opening night and to see their hard work come to life first-hand.
Steve informs us the restaurant portion has a seating capacity for 120 patrons, while an additional 30 guests can be accommodated in the lounge area.
A large room on the lower level can accommodate up to 350, while also allowing for smaller groups to be divided into sections.
While the restaurant is now open, Steve tells us the bank will be fully in its new location in about 10 days.
The bank has gone from cramped quarters and will almost triple in size to allow employees and customers more space.
GALLERY IS COMING
The First International Gallery is expected to open in a month or so.
This will serve as a reception area and also double to allow for a display of family, bank and area history.
In the gallery area you will be able to view a three-level water wall which cascades into a pool to be recycled, while providing a “soothing” sound for the guests.
Work is coming along on the 6 Shooters Showhall & Cafe and two theaters, which will be able to offer comfortable seating for 100 in each, expected to open in mid-August.
WORK IN PROGRESS
Work on the site has been ongoing for 22 months, and everyone involved was happy to be up and running.
“We're real anxious to do a good job,,” said Steve.
While the finishing touches continue, Steve went on to say, “we want this to be the best restaurant in the state.”
With the steakhouse and lounge, along with the addition of the theaters, Steve and Gretchen are looking forward to visitors paying a visit to Watford City.
Eric Kehr has been hired as the overall general manager and project manager, while Bruce Erickson is the general manager.
Presently the restaurant and bar will provide work for five full-time and 20 part-time employees, while the theater area will call for an additional 8-10 on the payroll.
For dining reservations you can call 842-6859 or check out the website, which is limited at this time, at www.outlawsbar-n-grill.com.
We recommend you saddle up and check out what's cooking in progressive Watford City.
CHRISTMAS IN JULY
Ho Ho Ho!
While it might be a little too early for that familiar greeting, a little Christmas in July never hurt anybody.
That's exactly what the good friends at Lewis & Clark State Park are planning for this weekend.
It all begins Friday and a number of activities, including a visit from Santa himself on Saturday, are being planned.
This is the 8th annual outing sponsored by the Friends of Lewis & Clark State Park.
It should be noted there will be a $5 per car admission fee to the park unless you have already purchased an annual park pass.
We'll tell you more on Friday.
BOY SCOUTS CAMP
There will be a lot of camping taking place in the area this weekend as a number of Boy Scouts will be taking part in a day camp at Spring Lake Park.
Bill Anderson, who serves as the executive director of the region, tells us the camp will run from 3-9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
With the extreme heat these scouts will be learning a number of skills, including how to stay cool.