SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Ask any Crow Bar regular and they would tell you they were nervous about the renovations. No one wanted to lose their classic old-school bar.
On a recent Thursday night, the doors were open again, the house was packed and the consensus was clear. There may be new multi-tone wood panels surrounding a more open floor plan, a fresh shiny bar top and updated wall decor, but the Crow Bar still feels like home.
“We didn’t want it to get fancy,” said Cathy Kayl, a regular at the bar for the past 28 years. “We like our crowd. We like our bar.”
Kayl told the Argus Leader she’s been coming to the Crow Bar once a week since she turned 21. A friend joked that she never left while the bar was closed for renovations, but camped in the parking lot until she could get back in. She and a few friends had come for lunch because they were itching to see the redesign, and returned for evening drinks.
“It looks great with the renovations, but it has the same feel,” she said.
Crow Bar full of fond memories for many
Kayl’s group of friends have fond memories attached to their time at the Crow Bar. Multiple wedding parties have ended up in the back corner drinking the night away over the years. Even with the new open layout and updated look, she could easily point to the cluster of tables the group had overtaken on such occasions.
A few of those tables had been pushed together that Thursday night to make space for the Crow Bar softball team. It’s no surprise that the team sponsored by the bar would make it their regular hangout.
“It feels like home again,” said Spencer Taylor, one of the players. “They did an amazing job.”
The Crow Bar was Taylor’s college bar when he went to Augustana, and he’s friends with some of the employees. He said he wants to keep supporting the bar in reciprocity for the owners’ support of the softball team. It’s Barry and Terri Hermanson’s care for their customers that keeps him coming back.
Fellow teammate Allen Goodroad echoed that sentiment. His friend knows the Hermansons personally, so he was able to attend the bar’s soft opening for friends and family.
“When they were giving a little speech, they said, ‘By the way, prices aren’t changing,’” Goodroad said. “They dumped a lot of money into this, but it’s great that they care about their customers.”
He added that he was impressed with the new flourishes. His favorite update is the wall of signed guitars near the pool tables.
One of those guitars hung just above Logan Landon’s head as lined up his pool cue for the break. After making the shot, he declared the Crow Bar to be the “best bar in Sioux Falls.”
“They got the same feel of the place,” he said, smiling. “It just looks a little younger now.”
A waitress passed by the pool table with a tray of shots, carrying them around the bar and coming to rest on a table next to a pitcher of beer. Angel Kasper and her friends made a toast to the new bar.
Kasper has worked as a waitress at the Crow Bar since last September, though she was off-duty that Thursday night. While many people may not willingly spend extra time at their place of employment, she thoroughly enjoys her nights off as a patron.
“The first time I ever came here I was looking for a second job, and it just felt right,” Kasper said. “Ever since then it’s been my favorite place to come and hang out and be around people.”
Big crowd on Crow Bar reopening night
Many of the bar’s employees helped with the renovation process, so the final product wasn’t a surprise to Kasper. Still, seeing the space filled with happy people was the missing link the team was waiting for, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic that shut things down for a while.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment and it makes us overjoyed to see the people in the bar,” she said.
Seeing “people in the bar” might be underselling just how successful the Crow Bar’s first day was upon reopening. Terri Hermanson said she’s received lots of compliments on how the building looks from the “constant stream of people” that came in all day long. At night, the crowds were shoulder to shoulder.
“It’s some mixed emotions, because there’s all the hard work you put into it, and you hope everyone likes it,” Hermanson said.
Having a completely full bar on a Thursday night is unusual, and she’s taking it as a good sign that the renovation was a success.
“It’s great to have people back into it, because it makes it feel more like home and not a work site,” she said.
That was all the conversation Hermanson had time for before hustling back to work the bar, which was kept busy all night long.
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