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New bar "Awake" to open in West Fargo

A new bar is coming to West Fargo after the City Commission approved the liquor license of a woman members initially denied a license to in May because of a lack of experience.

The commission unanimously approved the license of Ritchell Aboah at its June 4 meeting, allowing her to move forward with opening the bar Awake at 1410 9th St. E, Suite 501, the former location of Divas and Rockstars, a popular karaoke bar, and Maxwell's Lounge.

The West Fargo City Commission denied Aboah's initial request in May. Commissioner Mike Thorstad said he found her contact with police to be a concern. Thorstad questioned Aboah's experience, saying he only saw experience as a banker on her LinkedIn profile.

Aboah appealed the decision and found another partner to work with her as a manager at the bar who has extensive experience in the industry,

City Administrator Tina Fisk said that she recommended approval after police performed a background check on the applicant and confirmed the partner's experience.

In her initial liquor license application, Aboah said she has plans to open a standard bar that will offer drinks and possibly live music. She told investigators she would manage the bar based on her experience as a waitress and that she was mentored by a friend who works in the bar industry in New York City.

As part of the liquor license application, Sgt. Derek Cruff performed a background check on Aboah and found she was a victim of several domestic calls in 2015 and had called police regarding violations of restraining orders granted by the state against two of her acquaintances. She was arrested along with two other women for disorderly conduct in April 2016. However, no conviction or citation was found in North Dakota court records.

Insurance and financing for the bar was confirmed, Cruff's report said.

In his report, Cruff said he would forward the application for approval. In a memo to the city, Cruff said there were no areas of concern to be found.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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