CEDAR RAPIDS — A downtown Cedar Rapids country-western bar is relocating 350 feet from where it has been operating since 2012.
Hazzard County American Saloon will move next month from 329 Second Ave. SE to the former Downtown Tire building, at 402 Second Ave. SE.
Owner Brian Hughes said the bar’s existing location has been sold to an investor group planning to redevelop the block.
“Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust acquired our building with the purchase of Guaranty Bank,” Hughes said. “The bank was able to sell the entire block for redevelopment, so they offered us a deal to leave early.”
Hughes said Hazzard County will be moving from 4,800 square feet in a building built in 1897 to 8,372 square feet in a building erected in 1961.
“We’re looking at a huge beer garden,” he said. “We will have 20 bathroom stalls — 10 for the men and 10 for the women. I figured that if we are going to build it, we might as well go crazy.”
Hughes said the dance floor will be separated from the general seating area with a rail.
“It won’t be a situation where the general population will flow into the dance floor,” he said. “We will have enough room to section off the dance floor. People who want to dance can walk off the dance floor and those who don’t want to dance will be off by themselves.”
Live bands, Hughes said, will be performing more frequently.
“We do not do bands every night,” he said. “With the additional space, we are looking at getting some national acts — nothing top end like Keith Urban or Jason Aldean.
“We will be looking at up and comers who have a song or two on the radio.”
Hazzard County does not serve food. Hughes said a couple of Cedar Rapids food truck operators are being interviewed to sell food while parked next to the beer garden.
“Anyone inside Hazzard County will be able to get food just like it was a restaurant,” Hughes said.
Hazzard County operates Thursday through Saturday evenings. Hughes said the new location will lead to expanded hours.
Hughes said employee count will grow by about 25 percent, to 14 people, with the addition of two security and two bartenders.
The eight overhead doors in the former service bay area will be replaced with new overhead doors to provide access to the beer garden.
“We will keep the front entrance where it was, but we will be installing double doors,” Hughes said. “We also are planning to reuse the monument sign, replacing the large open space at the top with the Hazzard County American Saloon logo.”
Hughes said the remodeling work will be performed by Aspect Inc., owned by Steve Emerson. Palmer LC, the owner of the building, also is owned by Emerson.
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“We have knocked down all the interior walls that created offices and an inventory storage area,” Hughes said. “We are waiting for the city to approve the building permit and the sign permit.
“If all goes according to plan, we expect to close the doors at our existing location on Sept. 8 and have a soft opening at the new building Sept. 13 or Sept. 15.”