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November 17: Caspar Borggreve, Not a Dull Man

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According to the Bismarck Tribune on this date in 1987, Caspar Borggreve was adamant that he never wanted to be known as a dull man. He need not have worried. This Dutchman, who moved across Europe and the upper Midwest, eventually became a beloved restaurateur in Bismarck.

Caspar was born in 1937 in Terborg, Netherlands. He dreamed of owning his own restaurant since he was a child, but found it nearly impossible in the Netherlands, despite graduating from a restaurant and hotel management school in The Hague. Thus he moved to Greece where he taught in a vocational school and met his wife Martina. She was a graduate of a renowned hotel management school in Geneva. After working in the hotel industry in Switzerland for a few years, Caspar decided to accept a job offer in Milwaukee in 1968, but promised Martina they could return to Europe in six months if they did not like America. They ended up staying for the rest of their lives.

Caspar and Martina moved to Minneapolis where he managed Camelot, a fine dining restaurant. Then in 1979, he was recruited to manage the East 40 restaurant in Bismarck. Caspar finally realized his dream of owning a restaurant a year later when he bought the East 40 and renamed it Caspar’s East 40.

Caspar loved his restaurant. He called it his hobby and worked there about 80 hours a week. His family, which included three sons, loved Bismarck. Caspar’s East 40 became an award-winning restaurant with numerous awards from the American Academy of Restaurant Sciences, and the prestigious Distinguished Restaurant of North American award.

Caspar also got involved in the community. He volunteered for groups that dealt with child abuse, mental health, and homelessness. He was the first business person to win the North Dakota Children’s Caucus Advocate of the Year Award. He would attend legislative hearings and testify on behalf of children.

Unfortunately, Caspar died young, at the age of 53 from cancer. His wife, Martina, continued to run Caspar’s East 40 until 2002 when she retired and sold the restaurant. The name of the restaurant changed to East 40 Food & Drink, and then to 40 Steak and Seafood in 2014.

Dakota Datebook by Trista Raezer-Stursa

Sources:

  • Author Unknown, “Borggreve was Friend to Kids,” The Bismarck Tribune, November 4, 1990, pg. 1F.
  • Author Unknown, “BusinesScanner,” The Bismarck Tribune, August 4, 1979, pg. 28.
  • Author Unknown, “C. Borggreve,” The Bismarck Tribune, October 20, 1990, pg. 11A.
  • Author Unknown, “Caspar’s East 40 Restaurant Wins Award,” The Bismarck Tribune, September 1, 2002, pg. 1B.
  • Author Unknown, “Loyal Team Serves up Quality,” The Bismarck Tribune, March 28, 1993, pg. 9B.
  • Fredericksen, Julie, “‘Caspar’ Means a Whole Lot More than Fine Restaurant,” The Bismarck Tribune, May 30, 1990.
  • Grantier, Virginia, “Caspar’s Continues Tradition of ‘Home’ setting, Find Food,” The Bismarck Tribune, March 1, 2002, pg. 3C.
  • Holdman, Jessica, “Restaurant Revitalizing,” The Bismarck Tribunei, April 18, 2014, pg.
  • Hanson, Mark, “Caspar’s Sold,” The Bismarck Tribune, September 8, 2002, pg. 1B.
  • Knutson, Jon, “Call Him Anything But Dull,” The Bismarck Tribune, November 17, 1987, pg. 4B.

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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