by Dakota Drobnicki
Looking for a new place around campus for good food? Give C.K. Dudley’s Express a try sometime— you just might be pleasantly surprised.
People who live close to campus are likely familiar with Beaver Mart: a convenience store on the corner of 15th St and Bemidji Ave, adjacent to both Wollman’s Coffee Roasters and Asgard Computers. As of November 1st, 2017, Beaver Mart was officially taken over by C.K. Dudley’s, a local eatery established in 2016 by Christian Knutson and Shawn Dudley.
“It offers us a chance to showcase our barbecue down here on campus that we serve at the big restaurant up north of town,” says Dudley. “We’re just hoping for some foot traffic and some local support.” Dudley is a Business major from BSU who graduated in 2004.
The newly rechristened C.K. Dudley’s Express held its grand opening on Saturday, January 13th, 2018. Those who came in to celebrate were offered entry into a prize giveaway— and every entry came with a coupon for the original restaurant, only a few miles further north on Bemidji Ave.
The Express crew were especially proud of their new Northern Minnesota and BSU-inspired decor, which includes new custom-built tables, skiing gear, Beavers jerseys, and enough tin walling to build a life-size replica of the Tin Man. The original brick of the building was exposed against the back wall to give the store’s new 4K television its own scenic backdrop.
Knutson has noticed an uptick in business for both the Express location and their original restaurant since taking over. “The word’s getting around and people are getting more interested… my mother lives in Florida, I know she’s flown out from Florida just to come to our restaurant,” he says. Knutson is a Mass Communication major from BSU who graduated in 1995.
The interior overhaul was planned and carried out by Vernion Cooper, incumbent president of BSU’s Construction Management Club. C.K. Dudley’s Express provided contributions to the club to thank them for their hard work.
“[It] was a great opportunity for club members to gain some practical experience in construction and construction management,” says Cooper. “Working with an outside source provided an opportunity for members to coordinate with multiple parties, requiring good time management and communication skills.”
The new business has brought in a number of significant differences from the Beaver Mart’s setup. In addition to the new menu of C.K. Dudley’s food, the Express location recently acquired an on-sale liquor license and now serves beer on tap. They also offer a new loyalty program which provides discounts to BSU students. When used in tandem, C.K. Dudley’s Express becomes one of the cheapest locations for BSU students to get their beer from.
Typical for their Saturdays, the grand opening itself was a slower day for C.K. Dudley’s Express, but they had seen record business in the days preceding it— a trend that continued the day after during the Minnesota Vikings’ now-legendary championship game, according to employee Preston Bryant. He hopes to see an even bigger turnout of students and satisfied customers if the Vikings make it to the Super Bowl.
In any case, C.K. Dudley’s Express hopes to keep growing their base of regular customers, whether they be students, alumni, or people looking for good food to eat. C.K. Dudley’s are currently focusing on their two locations and have no plans to expand yet… although, as Knutson says, the demand is there.