GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- You won’t find skeletons in the Towers’ Italian Moon closet. Just towers of VHS tapes.
"I love history and have a passion for sports," co-owner Brad Towers said, after the weekday afternoon lunch rush at his restaurant on South Washington Street in Grand Forks.
His passion for the Fighting Sioux marks a trail directly to boxes of the old game tapes everything from basketball to hockey games stored right under the pizza counter on the buffet line.
Unlike the tapes that are stored out-of-sight, the Towers wear their Fighting Sioux hearts on their sleeve and display it everywhere on the Italian Moon walls. Step inside and you’ll find a rather interesting trash helmet at the front register (see photo album at top of page) and the championship hockey helmet worn by former Sioux star Craig Ludwig.
Ludwig, by the way, didn’t believe it when Brad told him the helmet was the one he wore in college in 1980. Ludwig was in town eating at the Italian Moon with the midget hockey team he coaches in Dallas, Texas. Whenever Ludwig’s team comes to town for the midget tournament at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, they always make sure to stop at the Moon.
The relationship between the Italian Moon and the Fighting Sioux goes back even before the championship hockey season of 1980.
Ken Towers (Brad’s dad) bought the Italian Moon with Dave Rubin in 1974. Years earlier Ken, a native of tiny Alsen, N.D., was given a full scholarship to play basketball at UND. Louie Bogan was the head coach, who as Brad says, "Gave my dad a scholarship out of the kindness of his heart. He was a six-foot center and not a great player."
However, Bogan knew Ken when he was growing up, and after a house fire when he was in high school, knew that Ken needed some help. Coach gave it and now Ken continues to give it back to UND. He’s been a Fighting Sioux Club member since day one.
There are hundreds of different UND pictures, posters, and helmets inside the restaurant, but ask Brad what his most prized possession is and you’ll get a surprising answer. It’s his dad’s high school basketball team picture, which hangs just above the pizza buffet.
Brad’s favorite moment in Sioux sports? Not the conference, regional, or national championships.
"We were having a rotten hockey season back in the early 90s in 8th or 9th place in the WCHA," Brad said. "Minnesota came in ranked No. 1 in the nation and we beat em. We scored four four goals in the third third period, won 5-4 and the roof was lifted off the old Ralph. I was hooked."
These days you may see a UND student-athlete waiting tables, helping out with the catering business or just coming in to eat.
And if you ever want to watch some old game tapes, just look under the pizza counter.