Seth Murphy knows next to nothing about running a restaurant.
But he knows what he likes: great food, a place he can both bring his family and conduct business, and a venue that can be used to give back to the community.
He wants The Crossing to provide all of that and more when it opens next summer.
The Dickinson oilfield entrepreneur said he isn’t letting the western North Dakota energy industry downturn keep him from diversifying his business ventures.
“Everyone says it’s a hard industry, and I’m sure it is,” Murphy said of the restaurant business. “But hard is a relative term. Not everybody deals with what we deal with by 5 a.m. every morning either.”
Murphy, the president of oilfield service company SM Fencing, said he wanted to start a business separate from the energy industry that would be able to provide an amenity to southwest North Dakota community.
He and his company believe they’ve found that opportunity with The Crossing, an 11,000 square foot steakhouse and bar under construction on north State Avenue near the Sierra Ridge apartment complex.
Kodee Gartner, the management director of Endeavor West — Murphy’s latest business entity that will function as the operations arm for The Crossing — said being a part of the team starting the restaurant has been rewarding in that they’ve been able to start with a blank canvas and move forward independently.
“What is our vision and how are we going to get there?” she said. “There is no blueprint. This is us sketching it out on a kitchen table, and trying to figure out what this is going to look like and how this is going to go. One of our biggest advantages is our team is deep in common sense.”
When complete, The Crossing will have two levels and ability to seat around 270 people.
Beyond that, Gartner said, The Crossing will have two private conference rooms able to provide space for everything from parties to board meetings, and another area she said can be called a “multi-use space.”
“We want The Crossing to be where people celebrate their life’s biggest moments,” Gartner said.
While the group’s main focus is to bring another dining opportunity to the area, it also hopes to use The Crossing as a philanthropic entity.
Gartner, who like Murphy is from the Killdeer area, was brought on board a little over a year ago and she was sold on The Crossing, in part, because of Murphy’s wish to conduct more philanthropic efforts.
“When I started on, what was appealing was he’s looking for a legacy impact,” she said. “… That’s part of the Crossing’s DNA is there will be social good woven into it.”
Gartner said The Crossing wants to be known as a gathering hotspot and the restaurant of choice for locals, both old and new, and be able to cater to changing social demographics.
“It isn’t a goal to build this to service the oilfield if and when it comes back,” Murphy said. “We’re building this to serve the locals that have been here that input good into the community. The agricultural segment is going to be a big part of what we play to.”
Ashley Lamphier, a business development specialist with Endeavor West, came to Dickinson from the Atlanta area through her friendship with Gartner. The two had worked together in the past, and after moving here, Lamphier said she fell in love with the area and her new company’s long-term plans, starting with The Crossing.
“I really see it as becoming almost a cornerstone of the community,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a big place where people can gather.”
As for the food, Murphy said he wants The Crossing to be as meat and potatoes as it gets, catering first to southwest North Dakotans and staying away from “fancier” entrees. A “simple menu” is planned.
They hope to have a general manager hired this week. That person will be charged with hiring around 30 employees, and running the day-to-day operations of The Crossing.
Murphy said he hopes to hire a manager he can trust to implement a strong work ethic while also being unafraid to try new things.
“None of us have restaurant experience,” Murphy said. “We know what we like. We purposefully didn’t bring anyone into the team that had restaurant experience because the way you’ve always done it is not always the right way. Just because it’s been done one way for 30 years doesn’t mean it can’t be done better.”