KEARNEY — For the first time since 2003, there is new life in the building at 2008 Ave. A.On Tuesday, McCue’s Nebraska Taproom opened its doors in the south commercial unit, serving only Nebraska-made beer, liquor and wine.
The owner of the structure, Patrick Moore, who also is a project architect for Wilkins Architecture Design Planning LLC of Kearney, is pleased to have restored the building’s soul.
“It’s been really fun to see some life starting to get breathed back into this building after working on it for so long.”
After 78 years of business, the former McCue’s owners Myron McCue and his brother, Lyle, closed their downtown grocery store in 2003. Their father, Thad, opened the store in 1925.
After the business closed, the building sat empty until the taproom opened earlier this week.
According to previous Hub articles, Buffalo County purchased the property for $142,500 in 2003 then sold it off in a 2009 public auction where Shawn Engberg, the owner of the Alley Rose restaurant at 2013 Central Ave., bought it for $60,000.
Moore began to talk with Engberg about ideas for the building and eventually bought it from him in 2016.
He ended up having to do a complete structural renovation. All the exterior bricks were tuck-pointed. All the mortar was removed and replaced with new mortar. The building also was repainted because a lot of the bricks had deteriorated to the point where they needed to be protected with paint and couldn’t be left exposed to the elements any longer.
“It has been a long journey just to get to the point where it’s structurally safe and sound and water tight. Then from there it’s been fun getting inside and deciding what to keep of the original, decayed, rustic look of the way it is and what we’re going to add that’s more modern and sleek and contemporary.
Moore was able to use a $40,000 facade grant to work on the exterior of the building and also received tax-increment financing. The support from the city of Kearney and Kearney Community Redevelopment Authority helped him offset some of the costs and unknowns that come with renovating the old building he believes was perhaps a few years away from having to be torn down for safety reasons.
“I think the city is doing a lot of things … to make it easier for us by allowing us to use tax increment financing to offset the rising costs of property taxes, providing different grant incentives and just listening to us from a code and permitting perspective where maybe the buildings can’t meet the building code as its written precisely but we can talk about ways that we can provide equivalent levels of safety and energy efficiency in older buildings,” Moore said.
“It’s wonderful that the city is at least listening and is actually excited to be helping with this process.”