Brad Wagner was born and raised in Jamestown, ND. At the age of 16 he started his first job as a dishwasher at one of the city’s fine dining steakhouses, WagonMasters Restaurant and Lounge. At the end of his junior year, he began cooking and did so for another 11 years until the establishment closed. He worked closely under the supervision of Jeff Kundert, the head chef, during his time there and learned a large portion of his culinary knowledge because of him. He attributes much of his success to Jeff and would not be where he is today without his mentoring.
After WagonMasters closed, he accepted a position at Perkin’s Family Restaurant for several years-learning valuable aspects of management from the owner, Chris Mikkelson, as well as a vast amount of skill being a breakfast cook. It was there that he and a co-worker, Kyle Kukowski, decided to branch out on their own and give entrepreneurship a try. In October of 2013 they moved to Maddock, ND and were the original operators of Harriman’s Restaurant and the Bobcat Bar.
After a year, Brad choose to go out on his own and left Harriman’s. For a time, he searched for another suitable place, where he chose LaMoure, ND. He purchaserd the old Wanda’s Place and began renovation. He officially opened Cornerstone Grub & Pub in January of 2016, although the kitchen waan’t complete. During the kitchen construction, a board member from Maddock reached out to him and inquired about returning to Harriman’s to help as the other tenant was leaving and the town had no other candidates. Brad of course said yes because of how much he loved Maddock and all who lived there. So, while the kitchen was beinig built, he moved up North once again and operated Harriman’s for the second time around. When a replacement was found, he moved back to LaMoure and launched a full menu.
After almost 3 years, and with a heavy heart, Brad chose to close Cornerstone due to extreme lack of qualified workers. It was impossible to continue without help and all possibilities were exhausted. It was during this transition he was contacted by a city council member in the tiny town of Hague, ND. After much deliberaton he decided to give it a shot as he never ran a small-town cafe before, and it may prove fulfilling.
In October of 2018, he re-opened The Hague Cafe. It took off very well with his creative dishes that the area was not used to having, and he managed to build quite the following from other areas. It also encouraged him to go outside of his comfort zones culinary-wise and try new things that this German Russian community was wanting. The pros of his time there were how he made himself grow as a cook and he added another variety of cuisine to his resume. When asked to reflect, he said he was fortunate to have the opportunity and the people were very nice, though when it came down to it, most just wanted pie and coffee and a burger here and there and “that’s just not me”.
In spring of 2019, Cheryl Linardon, city auditor of Anamoose, reached out to Brad about the steakhouse project. Brad decided to make a visit and liked the progress he saw. He was mostly impessed with the story of how they didn’t want another historic building demolished and so chose to restore it. Rather than tear down they wanted to build up and it reminded him a lot of Maddock. Their vision was a steakhouse with a small bar and that lined up perfectly with his roots. He had never operated a steakhouse since his time at WagonMasters, decades ago, and that was truly his passion.
After meeting with the Job Development Authority of Anamoose many times, he was chosen as the candidate and accepted. It was a tough wait as the construction process fell behind by 10 weeks, though it was worth it now as the place is taking off quite well.
He says the menu is ever-changing and this first one is a “test run” to see how the patrons respond to the dishes. He does a different special each day that is not offered on the core menu and will be creating new options all the time. For now, he’s featuring 5 different fresh-cut steaks, his secret recipe hand-pattied burgers, melts, wraps, salads, sandwiches, seafood, in-house smoked ribs, pastas with made from scratch sauces and a few desserts.
His sister, Beth Housh, has decided to relocate to help him run the 1909 Steakhouse. Brad says,”She compliments me to almost every degree. Her work ethic is amazing, and her skills and imagination have no limit. She will be integral in certain parts of the business where I can’t dedicate a lot of time to. She will excel in all areas though her focus will be on the front-of-the -house while mine is in the back.”
Brad is very grateful for this opportunity and looks forward to serving this community and it’s many surrounding areas for a long time to come.