Fargo's Pizza, a family favorite on East Platte Avenue near The Citadel mall for nearly 47 years, has closed indefinitely.
A notice was posted on the front entrance, saying Fargo's is closed "until further notice." The restaurant's website posted it was closed "temporarily" but did not provide a time frame.
The quirky restaurant based on an Old West theme opened in 1973 and almost instantly became a hit with teens and families, generating $1.2 million in sales during its first year.
Loretta Groccia-Anderson said she had been going to Fargo's since the mid-1970s for birthdays and Fargo's "would be missed."
"It is a staple of the community — a great place for gathering and catching up with friends," she said. "It had the best salad bar in town, iconic pizza and player pianos. It is one of the things people think of about Colorado Springs — Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, the Air Force Academy and Fargo's."
Groccia-Anderson said the restaurant held "millions of memories" for her, including introducing her husband, Scott Anderson, to it while he was working at the Air Force Academy.
Steve and Debbie Reed said they were Fargo's regulars, dining at the restaurant most Mondays, attracted by its expansive salad bar and friendships they had formed with longtime employees.
"It is very sad. We were here last week and they let us come in, go to the salad bar, pick everything we wanted and take it with us, since they were closed for (indoor) dining," Steve Reed said. "The (COVID-19) pandemic has been rough on a lot of businesses. I just hope this is temporary" until restrictions triggered by the pandemic are loosened.
Restaurants across the Colorado Springs area and statewide have shut down either temporarily or permanently by state restrictions on indoor dining to slow the spread of the pandemic. Jason's Deli, a Briargate area favorite, permanently closed its only location last weekend at 7455 N. Academy Blvd. Jason's Deli operates 275 locations in 28 states and had operated in Colorado Springs since at least the late 1990s.
Fargo's routinely attracted huge crowds to its 500-seat dining room and survived economic downturns in the mid-1970s, late 1980s and early 2000s as well as the Great Recession. However, the restaurant and many others were hurt by state restrictions on indoor dining in late March through early May and again starting Nov. 27.
Fargo's was started by Leon Gardner, who developed a hamburger chain in the Seattle area, sold it to the Campbell Soup Co. and decided with his younger brother, Landon, to open a pizza restaurant in Colorado, eventually choosing Colorado Springs.
They came up with a story about Fargo, a mountain town gambler who fell in love with Sophia, the daughter of Italian nobility, who came to the U.S. with just her family's old Italian food recipes.
The Gardner brothers furnished the restaurant with a pair of mannequins to represent Fargo and Sophia, big-game trophies, chandeliers from a Detroit theater and used mirrors that displayed order numbers to notify customers when their pizza was ready.