A member of several committees working on economic development in Mandan, Rob Knoll has seen the city’s struggle to attract new restaurants.

And faced with a recent study showing a $10 million gap between supply and demand for a sit-down restaurant, he decided to do something about it. Along with partner, Monte Stein, owner of Capital City Restaurant Supply and a former manager at Perkin’s, Knoll purchased the rights to bring a Bennigan’s franchise to Mandan.

“He was very much aware of the need or want for more restaurants in Mandan and he sort of turned the tables on himself,” said Mandan Business Development Director Ellen Huber, describing Knoll as a local resident striving to make his community better.

The 5,500-square-foot pub style restaurant is tentatively projected to open in May at 1516 27th St. N.W. The location is close to Interstate 94, Walmart and the new Starion Sports Complex. It would employ 75 people.

Popular menu items will include the restaurant’s famous Monte Cristo, Oh, Baby Back Ribs, the Turkey O’Toole, Lina’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, the Big Irish double-decker hamburger and specialty drinks.

Gwen Mangiamele, who co-owns Legendary Restaurant Brands – parent company of Bennigan’s, Steak and Ale and Bennigan’s On The Fly – with her husband, CEO Paul Mangiamele, is also from Mandan, and was childhood friends with Knoll.

“I had been imploring Gwen for months to consider bringing Bennigan’s to our hometown,” said Knoll, adding he was tired of driving 20 minutes to go out to eat with friends.

“I wanted that neighborhood feel in Mandan,” he said.

He said he loves the Bennigan’s menu and the fun family atmosphere it brings.

“We’ve been saying for years Mandan needed something like this,” Stein said. “We wanted to bring something different that Mandan’s never had, and I think this will be it.”

The pair plans to apply for the city’s restaurant rewards program for a sales tax rebate and interest buy down to help them get operating.

Huber said the town has a number of local sit-down restaurants, such as the recently announced Mandan Depot Beer Hall to be opened by Mandan restaurateur Edgar Oliveira, but this will likely be the first locally owned sit-down chain.

Huber said while most of the city's restaurant growth has been locally led, the town welcomes investment from all sources. The only restaurant not locally operated that will be opening in the community is Arby's, also to be located near Walmart.

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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Business Reporter