Thursday, April 24, 2014

OHS grad, Lawrence grocery store owner buys former Driver’s Sports Bar for $190K

By CLINTON DICK, Herald Staff Writer | 10/18/2013

As a kid in Ottawa riding by the building at 222 E. Logan St., Jim Lewis saw an antique wooden carving of a horse buggy that he said he always wanted.

While Lewis might not get the wooden horse buggy, after Thursday he became the new owner of the 7,900-square-foot building that previously was the once-prominent Driver’s Sports Bar at that Logan Street location.

As a kid in Ottawa riding by the building at 222 E. Logan St., Jim Lewis saw an antique wooden carving of a horse buggy that he said he always wanted.

While Lewis might not get the wooden horse buggy, after Thursday he became the new owner of the 7,900-square-foot building that previously was the once-prominent Driver’s Sports Bar at that Logan Street location.

Lewis, who is a 1964 graduate of Ottawa High School and current owner of the family-owned Checkers Foods in Lawrence, purchased the property Thursday morning at an auction for a reported $190,000.

Although nothing has been finalized, Lewis, who has been a grocer for 48 years, said he has plans to re-open the building as a sports bar.

“I’ve talked to a couple of different people about turning it back into a sports bar and banquet facility downstairs,” Lewis said. “There is a one-acre lot to the west [on the land] that could maybe be used for entertainment like mini golf.”

 While he admits to never having owned a restaurant or bar before, Lewis said he is taking it slow on the project and does not have a set time on when the building will open again for business.

“Right now we are just doing baby steps,” Lewis said. “I’m getting experts in [the restaurant business] to give me guidance.”

Lewis will not have possession of the land for the next 30 days, but he said that Kansas State Bank did allow him a set of keys to enter the building and look over the property. The land purchase came with an equipment package, which he said included several items and appliances within the building including booths, tables, chairs, a refrigerator, stoves and air conditioning. The building has two kitchens, a large lighted parking lot and seats around 250 in the private banquet facilities, according to auctioneer Bill Fair & Company’s website.

Lewis did not know whether he would use all the equipment, he said.

There is a lot of opportunity in the building, which sits near the junction of K-68 and Main Street in Ottawa, Lewis said.

“Like a lot of places, it just wasn’t handled properly,” he said. “I think it has a lot of promise. We are going to evaluate the situation and explore the possibilities.”

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