Mike Konz, Kearney Hub
KEARNEY — The Fanatics sports bar in Downtown Kearney: The Bricks is unveiling a new layout with an enlarged bar that puts it in the center of the action.
Other enhancements complement recent changes and retain the “at home” feel that patrons enjoy.
“We try to create a very homelike atmosphere. We want it to feel like you’re hanging out with your friends,” said Todd Schirmer, who co-owns Fanatics with Scott Johnson.
Schirmer said a good way to describe their business relationship is, “he sells it, I work it.”
Fanatics was closed about 10 days for the remodeling, but reopened Wednesday with the smell of new carpet and aroma of savory bar food filling the place.
Although the sports bar’s look is evolving, the menu retains all the favorites, including popper pie pizza, garlic hot wings and the nacho platter, to name a few.
“Our reuben sandwiches are great,” Schirmer said. “We get a lot of compliments on our reubens.”
Patrons immediately will notice that the bar has more than doubled in size, giving it a commanding presence. Schirmer said it’s a change that definitely alters the sight line for patrons, but it also boosts efficiency.
Today there is room for four people behind the bar. Previously it was a squeeze to have two bartenders.
The new floor plan and table arrangement capitalizes on lessons learned before and during the pandemic. There’s no longer a stage in the back, which increases seating capacity and improves flow. Seating now is 100-110 in the main room; 60-80 in the party room; and 40 in the beer garden.
Pandemic-related disruptions prevented Fanatics from completing every part of the remodeling plan. The business has reopened without the glass garage door planned between the beer garden and main room. Also, the 14-foot big screen TV will get a permanent home.
“We’ll have the flexibility to have the garage door open on certain days. It will let daylight in and it will make the building feel bigger because your eye can see outside.” Schirmer said.
He thinks the supply interruptions and unfinished parts of the remodeling could be in Fanatics’ favor because “we can test run it to see if we need to change anything.”
Like many other restaurants, bars and businesses, Fanatics has experienced shortages and price hikes on some of the foods for its menu. Schirmer said as other regions of the U.S. reopen from the pandemic, it’s creating shortages, and the high demand is producing higher costs.
“Before wings were $70 a case, now they’re $170.”
Fanatics employs 20. The staff is a blend of longtime employees and university students working their way through college.
“We actually have a pretty good retention rate,” Schirmer said.
Fanatics opened at 2021 Central Ave. under Johnson and Schirmer’s ownership in 2007, replacing the Club 3 dance club.
Schirmer said it’s exciting to see the entertainment potential developing in the downtown business district. “Fanatics and downtown feed off each other. You can expect to see about anyone in Fanatics, from business people to college kids and senior citizens hanging out in the same place.”
Parking continues to be a concern, Schirmer said, but downtown Kearney “still is going in a really good direction. We’ll probably continually improve. The customers who come in, we want to give them something back.”
Fanatics is open 4 p.m.-midnight weekdays and 11 a.m.-midnight weekends.
The original article can be found here.