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Timeline: 1990s

By | Last Modified: August 16, 2020


  • Wal-Mart’s first Bismarck store opens at 701 S Washington in December. It is part of several Wal-Mart openings throughout the Dakotas around the same time. This store is expanded over the years, including the addition of a 5,000-square-foot garden shop in 2000, before relocating in 2005 with two new Supercenters. Today, the building houses Runnings.
  • Bob Stoner re-opens Save-Way Superette at 223 N 15th. The store closed in 1982 after decades of operation.
  • Mandan Community Center erects North Dakota’s first indoor waterslide. The original three-loop 144-foot slide has since been replaced.
  • Butcher Block Meats opens in Mandan. It more than doubles in size in 1994.
  • U.S. Healthcare announces establishes a Bismarck branch at 1800 E Interstate Avenue with 27 employees. The firm  expands to more than 400 employees by 1994 to become one of Bismarck’s largest employers, and becomes Aetna in 1996.
  • Dakota Farms replaces Main Street Diner at at 1201 E Main Avenue. The building originally housed Country Kitchen, which closed in 1979, followed by Ron’s Family Restaurant until 1984 and Weisbeck’s Family Restaurant until 1989. Today, it houses Land O’ Lakes.
  • Governor George Sinner bans smoking in the State Capitol (October).
  • Friendly True Value opens a 31,000-square-foot building at 805 S 7th (July). The store closes in 1998 (for 25 days) and 2002. In 2002, it re-opens under new ownership as Mustang Hardware (affiliating with Do it Best Hardware) until October of that year, when it changes back to True Value. It closes a final time in 2006 and is replaced by Kirkwood Ace Hardware and Party America.
  • Another Chance Thrift Store opens at 1335 E Interstate Avenue in August. It is the fifth such store benefiting Dakota Boys Ranch.
  • Pizza Factory closes for the first time. It re-opens for another stint from 1991-1992.
  • Voters approved a $4.9 million bond measure on December 3, 1990 to expand Simle Junior High and Solheim Elementary; $4.1 million of which dedicated to Simle’s expansion with an additional $225,000 towards replacing Simle’s roof totally just over $4.3 million. The Simle expansion project is completed in 1992, replacing the gymnasium, cafeteria, and library while also adding ten new classrooms.


  • Wendy’s closes at 900 E Bismarck Expressway in January after being unable to strike a new lease agreement with the building’s owner. Its location at 2112 N 12th is unaffected, and its owner, who took possession in 1989, announces intent to open another location. Wendy’s ultimately returns to the same building in 1993, replace Cock ‘N Bull.
  • Dakota Burgers relocates from 302 S 9th Street to the corner of 9th Street & Expressway and renames itself Cock ‘N Bull, replacing the displaced Wendy’s, which returns two years later.
  • Wachter becomes the first school in North Dakota to convert to the middle school format
  • Simle Junior High begins construction of south wing
  • Captain Meriwether’s Landing opens
  • Kmart announces plans to remodel Bismarck store. It’s the first significant remodel for the store since its opening in 1971. It was one of the first Kmarts modeled after a new prototype implemented in Oak Park, Michigan. The renovation introduced a new logo, wider aisles, and improved lighting. The previously-separate deli and restaurant were combined and relocated to the front. The store’s selling area was also expanded into existing storage space to expand such growing departments as clothing, electronics, and pets. It is remodeled again in 1999 upon transition into the “Big K” format.
  • Time Square Mall is established inside the former Wachter Warehouse with 5 tenants, including TCBY (May). The shopping center venture failed within months, but continued as a mixed-use facility under new ownership.
  • Snooper’s Bump N’ Tilt is established, replacing “Bump and Tilt Family Fun Center.” A second Snoopers, Tons of Fun, opens in 1994. Bump N’ Tilt closes shortly after. Tons of Fun closes in 2015.
  • Bismarck debuts a new garbage collection policy, eliminating a so-called “Cadillac” service where garbage would be collected from next to residences. Moving forward, garbage will only be collected from the curb or alley.
  • $4.5 million renovation concludes on the Liberty Memorial Bridge, 15 days ahead of schedule (August). The bridge was closed between April and August. The project replaced metal grating with a solid concrete surface on the deck, as well reconfigured the approaches on both ends. A signal light was installed on the west side upon entering the Strip. During the project, workers discovered a defect in the bridge’s original construction where the reinforcing steel wasn’t connected in three of the 34 columns.
  • Relatedly, a $3.6 million new bridge was also completed for Highway 6 in Mandan over the railroad tracks at 10th Avenue NW and Main Street. The bridge replaced a viaduct that was constructed in the mid-1920s.
  • Century Avenue is widened into four lanes with additional turning lanes between Washington and State Streets. The project concludes in 1992.
  • McDonald’s Rock N Roll Cafe opens in November, replacing its former location at 2207 E Main, which was Bismarck’s first McDonald’s when it opened in 1971.
  • A & W Rootbeer Drive-in is put of for sale. After unable to obtain a new owner, the long-time restaurant closes by 1992.
  • Pizza Factory re-opens before closing for a final time. It originally replaced the local Happy Joe’s franchises from 1984-1990.
  • Bismarck Civic Center completes a 112,000-square-foot addition includes six meeting rooms and a 48,600-square-foot exhibit hall just north of the arena. The $11.2-million project was financed using a sales and leaseback method.



  • Pier 1 Imports opens on South Washington in October. Previously, in 1976, a Pier 1 “Associate Store” opened at 112 N 5th Street. That store operated until at least 1978. Pier 1 announced the closing of its Bismarck store in 2020.
  • Bismarck’s first Applebee’s opens inside the former Rax Restaurant at 434 S 3rd. The building originally housed Village Inn Pizza Parlor. Rax occupied it in 1985.
  • Bismarck City Commission approves a new official city logo featuring a star. It remains the city’s logos as of 2017.
  • New traffic signal implemented at Divide Avenue and 19th Street, replacing a single stop sign from 19th.
  • Mid Dakota Clinic completes a $3.2 million addition, including a $2.4 million 30,000-square-foot wing to its east end and a skyway connecting to nearby Saint Alexius Hospital. Previously, the outgrown Clinic leased space within Saint Alexius. Moving forward, the two entities continue sharing physical space.
  • Saint Alexius adds a new 80-person-capacity chapel on the ground level of its southwest corner, replacing the previous chapel on the second story within its oldest wing.
  • Burger King opens second Bismarck location in Gateway Mall’s outlot. It is the first local drive-through to feature dual order lanes. The restaurant closes in 2012 when its owner opts not to renew the lease. A replacement opens at Sunrise Town Centre in 2017.


  • New $2.2 million 5-story parking ramp opens at Main Avenue and 3rd Street (November)
  • Workers Compensation Bureau signs agreement to occupy all vacant portions of the failed Time Square Mall project.
  • $14 million Prairie Knights Casino opens in nearby Cannon Ball, and 4 Bears Casino at nearby New Town.
  • Herbergers completes a 30,000-square foot expansion and Target adds 15,000 square feet at Kirkwood Mall.
  • McDonalds on State Street changes formats, re-opening with its sports-themed Sports Dome.
  • Several major hotels play musical chairs with their franchises: Ramada becomes Best Western Doublewood Inn, Holiday Inn becomes Ramada, and Sheraton-Gelleria becomes Holiday Inn.
  • Kirkwood Mall joins three other North Dakota malls in implementing a smoking ban on May 1. The ban only includes the mall’s common areas. Individual tenants are permitted to voluntarily enforce the ban or not, with many restaurants continuing to allow smoking for years to come, including McDonald’s, Arby’s, and Grizzly’s. At the time, Gateway Mall had not yet decided on a ban.
  • House of Sund Pet Center opens at Gateway Mall.
  • $6.3 million underpass completed at Washington Street and Main Avenue (September). Washington Street traffic increases by 60% over the next year – to 16,000 vehicles per day, causing increased strain north of the project, particularly at Avenue C.
  • Several new businesses open near the intersection of South Washington Street and Expressway, spurred by Walmart’s opening in 1990 and the recent completion of the Washington Street underpass. Pier 1 Imports (in 1992): Fairfield Inn, McDonald’s (then Bismarck’s fourth), and second locations for Perkins, Little Caesar’s, and Budget Music & Video.
  • Flashing warning beacons are placed at the intersection of 7th Street and Bowen Avenue in response to a high frequency of traffic incidents, including two recent fatalities. A traffic signal is rejected due to the steepness of 7th Street.
  • Central barracks and granary reconstructed at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.
  • Missouri Valley YMCA begins a $1.5 million expansion.
  • Medcenter One and Q&R Clinic officially merge, having shared equipment and facilities since 1984. Medcenter One also completes a $7.9 million expansion project, which adds two stories – for a total of seven – to its main hospital building and a new 30,000-square-foot outpatient center across of Rosser Avenue, attached via skyway and underground tunnel to the main hospital. The project faced intense scrutiny prior to approval, largely the result of objections from competing Saint Alexius. The disagreement came to a head in November 1990 when the state Health Council – a citizen panel that approves major expansions and expense requisitions by medical facilities – denied Medcenter’s certificate of need for the expansion, which originally was estimated at $9.5 million to included a shelled third floor addition to accommodate future expansion, on top of the two floors that are ultimately added. The reduced-scale project won approval in January 1991. In plea for approval, Medcenter One agreed to reduce its licensed bed capacity from 256 beds to 232. Soon after, a court injunction halted Medcenter’s progress of its outpatient building, after commencing construction of “shelled” third and fourth floors. The Health Council was under the assumption that the outpatient building would only be two stories. Medcenter appealed to the state Supreme Court that the added cost fell under the $750,000 limit required for Council approval. The Council reversed its objection and approved the additional two stories in July 1992.
  • First stores open at Southridge Centre.
  • Stamart Travel Center (Oasis Truck Stop) opens (March).
  • Stamart acquires Jet Stores from Conoco. It remodels and re-brands the two local stores.
  • Region sees strong flooding that cost $40 million in damage.
  • Continental Airlines withdraws from the market.
  • Wendy’s re-opens its south Bismarck location along Expressway & 9th. For a span of two years, the restaurant operated as Cock ‘N Bull (formerly Dakota Burgers).
  • Blockbuster Video opens a 6,500-square-foot store at at 207 S Washington in December. Bismarck’s first Papa Murphy’s is later established inside, in 1999, occupying the southern portion of the building. The store closed in 2011. Today, it is home to Bismarck Title Company. The site formerly housed the city’s Arts Club previously occupied the site. Its building was noted for having been the last intact interior design by architect Ludwig Mies.


  • Borrowed Bucks Roadhouse opens at 118 S 3rd.
  • Unisys opens Bismarck facility.
  • Fore Seasons Golf Center and its dome open at 2525 N 19th. It initially features an indoor 12-tee driving range, batting cages, and an outdoor miniature golf course. An article from the time cites the miniature golf course was 18 holes, but I personally believe it was only
  • Simle switches to the middle school format.
  • A Blimpie sub shop opens at 424 S 3rd on the site formerly home to Howard’s Family Steak House, which was divided into multiple tenants. Blimpie’s later relocates to Airport Road before closing.
  • The Glatts acquire Roll N’ Pin in October and re-open it in 1995 as Kroll’s Kitchen North.
  • Sioux Falls Cable, a subsidiary of Midcontinent Communications, acquires Bismarck-Mandan’s cable system from Meredith.
  • Fox Island, a 217-acre housing project near the river, begins development.
  • Medcenter One (now Sanford) opens an $800,000 primary care clinic at Washington Street and Century Avenue (July).
  • Snooper’s Tons of Fun is established, supplementing Snoopers Bump N’ Tilt, the latter of which closes sometime after. Tons of Fun closes in 2015.
  • Bismarck rolls out a pilot curbside recycling program, commencing on June 1st. The two-year trial includes about one-third, or 4,000 households, in northeast Bismarck. The target area comprised, roughly, north of Broadway Avenue and south of I-94, and west of Centennial Avenue to portions of 9th Street and 4th Street on the east. Residents in the program were provided colorful bins of red, yellow, and blue for sorting. The program is discontinued on December 31, 1996, citing costs. In exchange, recycling trailers were placed at three sites in Bismarck. Curbside recycling doesn’t return until 2014.
  • Bank Center First (now American Bank Center) establishes a 440-square-foot full-service branch inside Econofoods.
  • Cash Wise Foods temporarily re-brands as SuperFair Foods.
  • Applebees expands its 3rd Street restaurant by 42-48 seats. The expansion occupies a portion of the lot once occupied by Howard’s Steak House.
  • Dakota Twin downtown movie theater is closed upon Midco’s theater expansion at Gateway Mall.
  • Grand Theater adds three screens to a total of six.
  • Caffee Aroma is established in the Logan Building. It relocates to 4th & Broadway under new owners in 2017.
  • Numerous fall ill from an E. Coli outbreak at The Woodhouse.

Gateway Mall

  • Movie theater at Gateway Mall remodels and expands from 3 screens to 8, at a cost of $2 million. At the time, Midco 8 is the largest movie theater in Bismarck. The theater first opened in 1985.
  • Herbergers closes Gateway location. The department store expanded at Kirkwood Mall in 1993.
  • Gateway to Science Center is established at Gateway Mall. The mall donated the 2,000-square-foot space to house the initiative. In 2005, the hands-on science center relocated into the Frances Leach High Prairie Arts & Science Complex (formerly Masonic Center) at 1810 Schafer Street, next to Bismarck State College. Plans are underway to relocate into $30-million independent building.


  • Suncoast Video and Software Etc. open.


  • Capital RV relocates to 1900 Industrial Road (January).
  • The Bird House relocates to 3101 State Street (January).
  • Beach House restaurant is bought by the local Subway franchise owner and converted into The Badlands Grill & Bar (January).
  • Wallwork Truck Center opens at 1910 Hancock Drive
  • Former Skipper’s at 2601 State Street becomes Joey’s Only, which shutters within a year.
  • Bev’s House of Furniture at 117 N 4th is renamed Downtown Furniture.
  • Mandan Hardee’s is replaced by a new building with bigger parking lot.
  • Zimmerman’s Furniture is established at 201 E Main.
  • Bismarck National Bank rebrands as “BNC” upon acquiring Metropolitan Federal Bank from Minneapolis-based First Bank System Inc.
  • Scheels Sporting Goods expands to 28,000 square feet – Kirkwood Mall’s sixth-largest store.
  • Upfront Plaza is announced
  • Unisys occupies 1133 College Drive
  • Carry’s Kitchen remodels
  • The Buckle opens at Kirkwood Mall
  • Perkins at 1100 E Interstate Avenue is remodeled.
  • Dan’s Supervalu relocates its south location to 835 S Washington (July). It is the company’s first to brand as “Dan’s Supermarket.”
  • The Badlands Bar & Grill replaces the Beach House at 115 S 5th Street. The venture is started by the owner of the local Subway franchises. It closes by 1997 and is replaced by The Elbow Room.
  • China Garden opens at Northbrook Mall (July)
  • To commemorate Independence Day, a fireworks display is hosted at the State Capitol for the first time since the state’s centennial celebration, in 1989. It is combined with a free concert performed by the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra. About 3,000 attendees were estimated. The event becomes an annual tradition.
  • Jacob’s Trading Company opens a deep-discount store inside the former Herbger’s at Gateway Mall. The store later becomes World’s Greatest Deals before closing (July).
  • Claire’s Accessories opens at Gateway Mall, supplementing its Kirkwood store
  • Pearle Vision opens
  • K-G Men’s shutters nationwide, including the store at Kirkwood Mall
  • Mac’s Hardware commences construction of its store at 26th Street and Bismarck Expressway (November)
  • The Walrus Restaurant opens at Arrowhead Plaza
  • New traffic signals implemented on Arbor Avenue at 7th and 9th Streets (April).
  • Musicland relocates its store at Kirkwood Mall and renames is Sam Goody (December).
  • Pair of new traffic signals implemented at Washington and East and West Bowen Avenues, as required by federal guidelines in response to federal money used in the recently completed Washington underpass.
  • United Building Centers closes Thunderbird Home Improvement store.
  • New traffic signal approved for College Drive and Divide Avenue.
  • Century Avenue between Washington Street and Tyler Parkway is widened to four lanes (October).
  • Major reconstruction of I-94 commences, which includes interchange replacements. Work is concluded the following year.


  • Sykes Enterprises establishes Bismarck branch (January).
  • Country West Conoco opens at 2205 Tyler Parkway in February.
  • Up Front Plaza’s first tenant opens in February: Ed Foo Young Restaurant. Despite reports of strong sales, the locally-owned franchised Chinese take-out diner shutters the following year.
  • Houlihan’s opens Bismarck location in February, after several delays. The restaurant was a local franchise owned by Ken Reno, who acquired the land from Bismarck Elks in 1994 for $1.3 million. It had 233 seats and was constructed for about $1.8 million. It closes in 2001 and is replaced by Green Mill the following year, who also has since shuttered. Today, the site is home to Bremer Bank.
  • Belle Mehus Auditorium undergoes major renovation
  • Joey’s Only shutters after a year inside the former Skipper’s at 2601 State Street. The building is demolished to be replaced by Arby’s in 1997.
  • The long-time downtown Ace Hardware franchise closes in August. Kirkwood Hardware Hank soon after affiliates with the Ace chain.
  • Shiloh Christian School relocates to 1915 Shiloh Drive – a 43-acre campus and its first permanent home.
  • Speed limit of Washington between Expressway and Bowen Avenues is increased from 25 MPH to 35 MPH. The zone is later expanded to Front Avenue.
  • Riverwood Drive is realigned southward to intersect with Denver Avenue at Washington Street.
  • Bismarck abandons its trial curbside recycling program that commenced in June 1994. The two-year trial included households in northeast Bismarck, or about one-third of the city, in which residents were provided three colorful bins for sorting. Curbside recycling doesn’t return until 2014.
  • T.J. Maxx opens in November, occupying the western portion of the former Kirkwood (Dan’s) Supervalu building. The retailer had previously been reported to be considering occupying the former Herberger’s space at Gateway Mall. TJMaxx later relocates to Pinehurst Square in 2006. Rex later occupies the eastern portion from 1997-2008. The building now houses Verve Fitness (formerly Gold’s Gym) and Petco.
  • First Southwest Bank (now Starion Financial) enters the market with its first location at 2900 N Washington.
  • Bismarck High receives major renovation and addition, gutting the interior while adding a new northern wing that houses two gymnasiums, a fine arts center, music rooms, and social studies rooms.
  • New traffic signals approved for 4th Street and Century Avenue, 12th Street and University Drive, and 26th Street and Rosser Avenue.


  • McDonald’s opens new restaurant on Burnt Boat Drive in January.
  • BEST Products closes its Bismarck store, along with eighty others. The store opened as Labelle’s August 1979, was acquired by BEST in 1982, and re-branded in 1987.
  • The largest snow storm between 1966-2013 buries the region (April)
  • Staples opens
  • Space Aliens Grill & Bar is established by Mort Bank
  • Cenex on Divide opens with an A&W drive-through. It marked the return of A&W locally after several years. Another A&W opens soon after at Front & 3rd (later “The Pitch”). Both locations have since closed. Another was planned – and even constructed – for State Street, but never opened (now Wendy’s).
  • Arby’s opens on the former Skipper’s site on State Street.
  • Schlotzsky’s Deli opens on Interstate Avenue.
  • Rex TV & Appliance occupies the remaining portion of the former Kirkwood Dan’s Supervalu, joining TJMaxx. It was the third Rex to open in North Dakota. It closes in 2008 and now houses Petco.
  • The Elbow Room replaces The Badlands Bar & Grill, which opened in 1995 at 115 S 5th Street. The long-time bar relocated after its former landlord registered the trade name and filed a lawsuit. The matter is ultimately settled out of court.
  • Barnes & Noble opens Bismarck store, as an anchor at the newly expanded Southridge Centre.
  • Mandan Burger King opens on the site once home to Popeye’s.


  • Jade Garden closes and is replaced by Los Amigos
  • Staples and Office Depot open stores, each of them the first in North Dakota. Staples, which built a freestanding store on South Washington Street, preceded Office Depot by several months. Office Depot occupies the western half of the former Best Products store, which closed in 1997. Both office stores, along with Office Max, had bid for the former Best space. As of 2018, Office Max has never opened a Bismarck store.
  • Expressway Plaza, at 12th Street and Expressway, is expanded and renamed Time Square under new owners. Another, unrelated mall called Time Square was previously established in the former Wachter Warehouse in 1993.
  • Meyer family divests its radio and television station group, including KFYR-AM and KFYR-TV, for nearly $70 million.
  • Friendly True Value closes the first time, for 25 days. It will close again in 2002 and, finally, in 2006.
  • Menards plans for a new freestanding store along U.S. Highway 83, replacing its anchor store at Gateway Mall. As originally reported, the planned 165,000-square-foot store would be Bismarck’s single-largest largest retail store. Construction commences in May 1999.
  • Sioux Sporting Goods closes after 52 years.


  • Pebble Creek and Hawktree golf courses open
  • Bismarck’s first Papa Murphy’s is established inside Blockbuster Video at 207 S Washington.
  • A $9.8 million (one source says $8.6 million) addition to the Bismarck Civic Center’s south was dedicated in December. Construction commenced in March 1998. This addition included 1,000 new seats, a new main entrance, new ticket box office, upper-level food court, and 1,200-capacity reception area. Other improvements included new sound, lighting, and curtain systems.
  • Dakota Block commences a $500,000 renovation with $47,000 in TIF funding. The project concludes in 2002.
  • Bismarck’s Kmart adopts the “Big K” format and remodels accordingly, relocating several departments to incorporate a “pantry” that adds milk, dairy, and other food essentials. It’s the first remodel since 1991 and the final significant renovation to the store (as of 2019).
  • KFC Mandan location at 614 W Main Street closes and is replaced by Securian Financial. The location opened in about 1986.
  • Near-100 MPH winds, coupled with large hail cause widespread damage during the McQuade Tournament on June 25. One victim is the original Fore Seasons Golf Dome.
  • Clarence Sayler and Daryl Rosenau, long-time employees, purchase Feist Electronics from Andrew and Keith Feist in February. They relocate in May from the Dakota Block to 225 W Broadway Avenue.
  • Montgomery Ward closes on May 2nd, leaving an empty anchor spot at Kirkwood Mall not filled until 2002
  • Dairy Queen opens inside the former Pony Express on South 12th Street, near Bismarck Expressway. It was the third Queen in Bismarck, in addition to Mandan. The restaurant later relocates across from the south Walmart Supercenter.
  • Hollywood Video – then the nation’s second-largest video rental chain – opens its first Bismarck store, replacing the Budget Music & Video on South Washington. The store closes in or around 2010 and is replaced by locally-owned Box Office Video.
  • Covered Wagon Bar closes in November after the building’s owner, Medcenter One, opted not to renew its lease to demolish the building for parking. Much of its assets were gifted to Buckstop Junction. The bar originated at 412 E Broadway in about 1938 before relocating to 206 N 6th in the late 1950s. The building was built in 1934 as the State Theater.

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