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Inside The Grub Tub: New restaurant space sparks first week successes

We spoke with owners Mike Barnes, Eric Burruss and Shannon Burruss on how their first week went of opening a new restaurant space in downtown Dickinson.

Co-owners Shannon, left, and Eric Burruss and Mike Barnes stand in front of their recently opened business The Grub Tub on Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
Co-owners Shannon, left, and Eric Burruss and Mike Barnes stand in front of their recently opened business The Grub Tub on Tuesday, March 22, 2022. The Grub Tub is located at 137 First Ave. W. in the heart of downtown Dickinson and first began as a food truck in 2021 that became a popular hit with the Dickinson community, prompting the owners to think bigger and open their very own restaurant.
Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON — What started out as a food truck for a year has now opened up a brick-and- mortar space in the heart of downtown Dickinson. Last week, The Grub Tub opened its new location at 137 First Ave. W., serving a full breakfast, appetizer and lunch/dinner menu.

The Grub Tub began in December of 2020, when owners Mike Barnes, Eric Burruss and Shannon Burruss opened their own food truck in Dickinson. Originally, the three owners had planned on blending three food trucks to power one restaurant. After one year, the community response was overwhelming and all doors led to opening a restaurant.

So in December of 2021, the trio shut down the food truck and went straight to renovating the building, which fell into their laps, Eric Burruss said.

“Both Mike and I spent 10 years in the oil field before this, so we hadn’t really done anything like it,” Eric Burruss said, with a chuckle. “So this was all new territory to us and my wife Shannon too.”

The Grub Tub food truck is pictured at the Prairie Hills Mall parking lot in 2021.
The Grub Tub food truck is pictured at the Prairie Hills Mall parking lot in 2021.
Contributed / The Grub Tub
Customers dine at The Grub Tub on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, during its grand opening in a new location in downtown Dickinson.
Customers dine at The Grub Tub on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, during its grand opening in a new location in downtown Dickinson.
Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press
From left, Shannon and Eric Burruss and Mike Barnes stand in front of The Grub Tub, which is a new restaurant space the trio recently opened in downtown Dickinson.
From left, Shannon and Eric Burruss and Mike Barnes stand in front of The Grub Tub, which is a new restaurant space the trio recently opened in downtown Dickinson.
Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press

During their first week, Barnes noted that the restaurant more than doubled sales from the food truck.

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“It went pretty well considering we’ve never done this before and we’ve got some staff members in place right now that have been a godsend to us,” Barnes remarked, adding that they have a certified chef who also offers gluten-free options. “... All three of the owners still work. We’ll always be doing something. We’re down in the trenches just like everyone else right now.”

Coming out of the gate with nearly a 4,000-follower base on Facebook, The Grub Tub was able to introduce themselves in the food truck unlike other restaurants that start from scratch where customers haven’t experienced their food yet, Eric Burruss noted.

“I think that we couldn’t have gotten a better place in town. I honestly can’t think of a better spot for a restaurant across the street from the new city center; we’re going to have concerts across the street; First-On-First is going to be right here. It’s really a no-brainer as far as this being an epic spot for something like this,” Eric Burruss said, adding, “But we’ve also brought something to Dickinson that the rest of the town doesn’t have with this family-dining atmosphere… I feel like it’s already brought the community together better. There’s no TVs in here, so when people come in here and have a meal, they’re going to focus on each other.”

Instead of television screens, The Grub Tub has offered a space for local artists to display their artwork.

Four men enjoy a hearty breakfast at The Grub Tub as co-owner Shannon Burruss, right, pours one of the customers another splash of coffee Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
Four men enjoy a hearty breakfast at The Grub Tub as co-owner Shannon Burruss, right, pours one of the customers another splash of coffee Tuesday, March 22, 2022.
Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press
A french dip from The Grub Tub shows seasoned beef smothered in provolone on a toasted hoagie served with homemade bone broth au-jus and a side of fries.
A french dip from The Grub Tub shows seasoned beef smothered in provolone on a toasted hoagie served with homemade bone broth au-jus and a side of fries.
Contributed / The Grub Tub

The breakfast menu, which is available from 6 to 10:30 a.m., was inspired by both Barnes and Shannon Burruss, who used to make special burritos for her husband when he used to work in the oil field.

The rest of the menu was handcrafted after Eric Burruss spent years in the kitchen, creating recipes for his family and friends.

“I never (was) able to go in and have fancy meals when I was a kid. We weren’t able to afford that sort of thing,” he said. “So I learned how to cook it for myself, so that we could enjoy that and I could help share that with my family and my friends for years.”

Now, The Grub Tub offers two daily specials, instead of one at the food truck.

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“Every day, it’s something different and they’re served one-day only so they're always fresh. So you don’t get the stale remake of something from last week. You can come here every single day and still not have the same thing. You can be here every day and not get sick of it. And it’s all homemade stuff,” Eric Burruss said, adding that they’ll soon be offering salads and healthier options that weren’t available at the food truck.

Smoked brisket from The Grub Tub is shown.
Smoked brisket from The Grub Tub is shown.
Contributed / The Grub Tub

Though it’s a risk becoming self-employed, Eric Burruss noted that it pays off with hard work.

“One thing I’d say to anybody… (is once) you get to the position where you’re… questioning what you’re doing, keep pushing. Keep going because it’ll get better. People who fail at this usually are the people who give up before they’ve gotten themselves to the point where it starts paying you back the way it should. But you have to swim through the sh*t in order to get to the other side — you really do… Unless you have an unlimited budget to start something like this, there’s a river of sh*t that you have to swim through, period,” he said. “… People open businesses, but not that many people's businesses stay open.”

Eventually, the owners are planning on opening a roof-top access, which will have a bar and outdoor dining. Adding a delivering and catering service is also on the goal list for the three owners. Barnes added that they would like to offer a charity service to give back to the community, such as a daycare service to less-fortunate parents, called the “Tub-A-Lub Program.”

The Grub Tub is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is closed Sunday and Monday. For more information, visit The Grub Tub ND Facebook page or call 701-353-5524.

Related Topics: DICKINSON
Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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