When Mac Dolan and Kelly Quinn took ownership of Marty’s Tap in early May, they sought to upgrade the Court Street establishment’s haggard physique with some much needed improvements, while maintaining its integrity and reputation as a destination bar for dedicated regulars.
Marty’s Tap, 1306 Court St., was in dire need of renovation as Quinn and Dolan soon found out. The tap lines were more than 30 years old. The cooler was falling apart downstairs. The patio furniture needed to be replaced. The ceiling was a mess. Bulbs were burnt out. And a respectful sound system was underutilized. The new owners had their work cut out for them.
With Dolan’s bar experience (Work & Church Booze Parlor, Teasers) and Quinn’s handyman skills (Direct PC), they’ve spruced up the bar and fixed any problems they came across. Quinn’s wife, Nickie Quinn, was even brought on board as bar manager. The Chicago Cubs and Iowa Hawkeye decor are still around -- Dolan and Quinn know better than to rid Marty’s Tap of its sports bar atmosphere.
The two are far from being finished, but the minute a complication arises, Quinn and Dolan are quick to fix it. But they have no intention of changing the overall mood and design of Marty’s Tap.
“We won’t tear anything out of [the bar] because that’s Marty’s feel,” said Dolan. “It’s that Iowa feel, that Cubbies feel. The Cubs club that was generated years ago by the customers and regulars and the Hawkeye following has maybe fallen off over the last couple years. We want to build that back up and make sure they’re here and that this is their home. They don’t need to go anywhere else.”
Preserving the bar’s ambiance and structure is top priority. Before the two officially owned the bar, Quinn was at Marty’s Tap three days a week talking to bar patrons about what exactly needed fixing. He even went so far as to track down previous regulars and find out why they weren’t coming to the bar anymore.
“We did a lot of ground work trying to figure out what was going on here,” said Quinn. “Atmosphere was the main thing. They felt it was kind of slipping.”
For a bar that had Herky the Hawk and the Cubs baseball logo painted on the side of the building, game nights were becoming less frequented. Whether it was the poor sound quality on the TVs or the crowd just wasn’t like it used to be, Marty’s Tap's reputation wasn’t living up to expectations.
“This was the original ‘Hawkeye bar’ of Sioux City,” said Dolan. “It used to be for a long time.”
Time will tell if Marty’s Tap will rise to that former status. Keeping the bar's roots in mind, Quinn and Dolan updated the bar’s logo, highlighting its establishment in 1969.
“That’s a long time,” said Quinn. “You don’t see businesses lasting this long. That’s the other reason we [took ownership]. Marty’s is a staple in Sioux City like Miles Inn, Milwaukee Wiener House and Prince’s. These places have been here forever.”
With the various sports bobble heads and memorabilia scattered behind the bar, Marty’s Tap is certainly retaining its familiar vibes. But Quinn and Dolan also want to see the bar progress. Adding a small indoor stage for Friday night acoustic shows gives patrons something new to look forward to.
Quinn -- who also fronts The Kelly Quinn Band -- made sure the outdoor patio area was up to snuff for visiting bands to play comfortably. Despite his music background, Quinn said he has no intention of turning Marty’s Tap into a live music venue, although the bar will be well prepared with quality sound equipment for weekend rock concerts.
“They put a lot of work out here in the patio,” said Quinn. “It’s a really cool place, but it was really in need of some TLC. We re-did all the sound. I put in probably one of the best sound systems in a bar this size.”
Quinn and Dolan will also be a tad more selective when choosing bands for shows at Marty’s Tap.
“In the last four years, a lot of live music was done here and it tended to sway towards more rap and techno and that type of music,” said Dolan. “I think we’re going to sway more to the acoustic and rock genres of music.”
While the music changes and an indoor stage are added bonuses, Quinn and Dolan are still determined to attract Chicago Cubs and Iowa Hawkeye fans back to Marty’s Tap. All the upgrades and restorations and hard work are going towards the regulars -- old and new.
“We feel in a place like this, if you don’t have the regulars, you’re not going to survive,” said Quinn. “A lot of these guys have been coming here for years and years and years. The regulars are the bread and butter of a bar like this.
"We're trying to get the people, who in the last couple years decided this wasn't their bar anymore, back in here."