HARTINGTON, Neb. -- Every small town delights in seeing new businesses open in its downtown.
It's even better if they set up shop in older, renovated buildings, keeping the town's history alive.
Two new, unique businesses have done just that recently in Hartington, bringing new life to century-old buildings and adding some buzz to the business district.
First was The Globe Chophouse, an upscale steakhouse that owners Kate and Kyle Lammers hope becomes a destination dining attraction, housed in the historic Globe Clothing building at 301 N. Broadway Ave. It opened in mid-May.
On June 4, Big Hair Brewhaus opened across the street at 306 N. Broadway in a building built in 1919. Inside, owners Brett and Leah Wiedenfeld and Reed Trenhaile, the manager and brewer, give local residents a taste of the growing craft beer industry.
Two cool business ideas housed in two cool, old buildings that look better than ever.
"It's something that's really important to every community, to preserve that history," Brett Wiedenfeld said while sitting in the front taproom at the Big Hair Brewhaus. "We're super happy The Globe Chophouse opened up because it's a great complementary business to us. Whatever we can do to bring people to town."
The feeling's mutual, Kate Lammers said, and it's neat to see a couple new businesses the likes of which the Cedar County seat of about 1,600 didn't have.
"We were lacking a restaurant that provides an experience and had nothing like the Brewhaus," Lammers said. "It just feels very humbling putting Hartington on the map and making it a destination."
The openings continue a trend of downtown building revitalization here.
Husband-and-wife veterinarians Erin and Ben Schroeder, known for their "Heartland Docs, DVM" show on Nat Geo Wild, restored the historic Hartington Hotel up the street in 2018. They had done the same thing in 2015 to the Globe Clothing building, a structure Lammers fell in love with when moving here 10 years ago with her Hartington-native husband.
"I said to Kyle, I want to buy that building," Lammers said.
The Schroeders beat her to it, refurbishing the building as an event space and later a general store. They renovated the second floor into a home for their family.
In November, Kate and Kyle Lammers bought a building half a block away, planning to open an establishment that offered quick lunches and steak nights. Just after they closed on the building's sale, the Globe went on the market, and Kate had her chance to buy the building she had always wanted.
"While we loved the building (they had just bought), it didn't have the charm and location that the Globe encompasses," Lammers said.
Now owner of her dream building, Lammers set to work transforming the Globe into a restaurant. Thanks to the Schroeders' earlier work, the Globe was already restored, enabling Kate and Kyle to focus on an adjacent garage, which they bought and remodeled into a kitchen and connected to the Globe. Kate and Kyle, who farms and raises beef under the brand name KL Beef (sold in the restaurant), moved into the upstairs living area with their children.
The Globe presents a striking corner entry, big windows and a second level that looks out over downtown Hartington while offering a menu of favorite meat cuts with some additions you would expect to see in restaurants in larger cities.
"You feel like you've kind of stepped back in time, but we want to embrace the future with the food," Lammers said of the Globe's atmosphere. "We want to be a destination restaurant in northeast Nebraska."
Brett Wiedenfeld and Trenhaile share a similar dream. The second cousins -- Wiedenfeld's from rural Hartington and Trenhaile's from Wayne -- had long talked about opening a brewery but couldn't find a building suited to their needs.
But when a building that had been a Surge dairy equipment and supply store for some 40 years until it closed two years ago became available, they stepped up their plans and bought it in October.
It was a perfect fit. The concrete floors support the heavy brewing equipment. Hidden behind paneling were beautiful brick and block walls that now are featured throughout the seating area. Wooden bowstring trusses in the back and a tin ceiling in the front add character.
"It's just a really cool space," said Wiedenfeld, who's also the CFO at Bank of Hartington. "We're just happy we could keep this building in its original form."
They named it Big Hair because, well, Wiedenfeld has big hair and a full beard. Trenhaile recently had his hair trimmed, but he's kept his mustache. Keeping with the big hair theme, the brewery features a front taproom with a more reserved atmosphere. In the back room, affectionately referred to as The Mullet after the hairstyle made famous by rock musicians, is a larger seating area, full of big-screen TVs and an outdoor beer garden. Live music is featured on the weekends.
The two plan to offer 12 of their own beers on tap once they catch up with the early demand that's already drained their first batch of cream ale.
"The response to our beer has been insane," said Trenhaile, who previously worked at Wooden Legs Brewing in Brookings, South Dakota.
Both Wiedenfeld and Lammers said response to their businesses thus far has been beyond expectations. The long months people spent cooped up because of the COVID-19 pandemic might have helped, Lammers said.
"We've had a lot of people from out of town. I think people are ready to get out, not just to a restaurant to eat but to spend time with family. I think this building fosters that," Lammers said of her restaurant's historic setting.
In return, the two new businesses are fostering a surge of activity in downtown Hartington.