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Timeline: 1990s

By | Last Modified: February 6, 2018


  • Wal-Mart first opens in Bismarck (relocated in 2005)
  • Bob Stoner re-opens Save-Way Superette at 223 N 15th. The store closed in 1982 after decades of operation.
  • Governor George Sinner bans smoking in the State Capitol (October).
  • Friendly True Value opens a 31,000-square-foot building at 805 S 7th. The store closes in 2006 and is replaced by Kirkwood Ace Hardware and Party America.
  • Pizza Factory closes for the first time. It re-opens for another stint from 1991-1992.


  • 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
  • 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.
  • $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 was widened into four lanes with a turning lane between Washington and State Streets.
  • 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.
  • Dakota Burgers relocates from 302 S 9th Street to the corner of 9th Street & Expressway and renames itself Cock ‘N Bull. The building formerly housed Wendy’s, which returns two years later.



  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • $6.3 million underpass completed at Washington street (September).
  • 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. Medcenter One also constructs a new outpatient center on Rosser Avenue, attached via skywalk to the main hospital.
  • First stores open at Southridge Centre.
  • Stamart Travel Center (Oasis Truck Stop) opens.
  • 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. 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.


  • Unisys opens Bismarck facility.
  • ore 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Bank Center First (now American Bank Center) established a 440-square-foot full-service branch inside Econofoods.
  • Cash Wise Foods temporarily rebrands 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.
  • 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.


  • Dan’s Supervalu relocates its south location (July). It is the company’s first to brand as “Dan’s Supermarket.”
  • Rex TV & Appliance and TJMaxx open inside former Kirkwood (Dan’s) Supervalu building; TJMaxx later relocates to Pinehurst Square in 2006, Rex closes in 2008. The building now houses Gold’s Gym and Petco.
  • 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.
  • The Walrus Restaurant opens at Arrowhead Plaza



  • 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).
  • 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.


  • Montgomery Ward closes, leaving an empty anchor spot at Kirkwood Mall not filled until 2002
  • Jade Garden closes and is replaced by Los Amigos
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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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