by Marianne Gasaway
If there is a silver lining in the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, Al and Mike Hejna found it.
The brothers used the Governor-ordered restaurant shutdown in April and early May to remodel their popular downtown businesses, Rookies Rockin’ Sports Bar and Sevens Restaurant & Steakhouse. The projects were finished just as the dine-in prohibition was lifted and they opened their doors to the public last week.
“The state closed us at noon on March 17 and the next morning we started in Rookies,” said Al. “We took all of the signs and TVs off the walls and tore off the old barn board that made up most of the walls. The first thing we did was paint the antique tile ceiling a darker red. Then we put up new wood where the barn wood had been and then we had the walls all painted and the woodwork that was left sanded, stained and finished.”
The project also included replacement of Rookie’s iconic black and white checkered floor over the old one. A new concrete table that seats eight and three more TVs were added for a total of 20 TVs in Rookies.
In Sevens, which sits adjacent to Rookies, everything came off the walls and booths were moved out for a deep clean. All of the walls were painted, bathrooms remodeled with new colors, and a new floor installed. New concrete table tops are now in place in Sevens and larger booth dividers are now on the shorter booths to give more safety and privacy from booth to booth.
“After that was all done we started putting everything back on the walls; I’ve had 100 or so old antique beer signs I’ve been wanting to get up and now they finally are up with certain booths dedicated to the older beers,” said Al. The addition of another TV brings the total to eight in the restaurant.
According to the Hejna’s, the ordered shutdown was the perfect time to dig into projects which they have been thinking about since purchasing the businesses. Al said they bought Rookies in 1995 and in 1997 gutted the building on a Sunday and opened on the following Friday with a new floor. The bar was moved to its current location in the middle. In 2008 they bought Sevens, but spent almost a year remodeling. As part of that process new bathrooms were built for Rookies behind Sevens and the pool table area was expanded toward the back where the bathrooms were formerly located.
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