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WC’s original sports bar reopens

Remodeled Seneca Street Saloon opens with new owners

Greg and Tami Olson are the new owners of the Seneca Street Saloon. The couple purchased the business and spent the past several weeks remodeling the sports bar and grill.

A familiar gathering spot with a long history in Webster City, recently reopened with new owners.

The Seneca Street Saloon, now owned by Tami and Greg Olson, opened last week after being closed for renovations.

Larry Ross, who died suddenly in July, had owned and operated the Saloon for 40 years. Ross’ untimely passing lead many to wonder what would become of the iconic establishment.

“We wondered what the family would do with the business,” said Tami Olson. “It was really just a thought.”

But while moving their son to college, the Olsons talked with another parent who was well acquainted with the Ross family.

Customers will recognize some familiar touches at the longtime Webster City establishment such as brick walls and mascots of area teams. But there are also many new features. The restrooms have been complete renovated as has the kitchen. There is a new entrance for the business at the corner of Seneca and Bank Street.

“It came up in conversation and he got on the phone to Kay (Ross),” Tami said. “She called us and said, ‘Let’s talk.'”

Owning a sports bar was not really anything the Olsons had planned to do. The couple owned the Godfather’s Pizza in Webster City, but had gotten out the business several years ago.

“Obviously, this place was a little different and it intrigued us. I guess we were meant to be in the business,” Tami Olson said.

The Olsons have spent the past couple of months remodeling the place. Most noticeably, the entrance is now located on the corned of the building. The old entrance was closed off to expand and renovate the mens and women’s restrooms.

“We knew going into it we wanted to upgrade the bathrooms and kitchen,” said Greg Olson. “We had some ideas and laid them out on paper to see if it would fit and we made those work.”

Greg Olson demonstrates the tap system at the Seneca Street Saloon. Olson and his wife, Tami, purchased the iconic Webster City sports bar and opened for business last week.

A fresh coat of paint in a pale gray hue was added to lighten up the dark wood finishes. Additional lighting was also added.

Throughout the establishment, there are touches of Lynx purple and gold — a hat tip to the local high school sports teams. The new bar top has a marbleized look incorporating those colors along with the gray. Greg Olson said he hopes to add a galvanized metal front to the bar with LED strip lights to create a focal point.

The new owners along with family and friends worked on the renovations. They also had members of local sports teams who stepped in to help with some of the heavy lifting.

The layout behind the bar has changed a bit as well. The Olsons moved the tap system behind the bar, and added a “bottoms up” system. Greg Olson explained that when a glass is placed on the fill nozzle, it actually fills from the bottom.

“There is a hole in bottom of the glass that seals with a magnet,” Greg Olson said. “It’s kind of a novel way to fill a glass. And it fills perfectly everytime”

A painted sign on the window, "Webster City's Original" sports bar, grill and pizza, reflects what the former owner, the late Larry Ross, used to call the establishment.

Along with the usual beer options, the Olsons said there will be a few new items on tap, including some craft beer selections from area breweries.

“We’ll have a couple of mainstays, but the others will rotate, based on the season. That’s something that’s not always available at bars,” he said.

Tami Olson said that Moscow Mules are proving to popular drinks at the Saloon.

“One of the favorites is a carmel apple flavor,” she said.

The owners have also created a signature drink for the sports bar — the Purple Lynx.

“That’s just another place we’ve incorporated purple,” she said, pointing around the room at the many nods to Lynx colors.

All of the tables in the Saloon are adorned with table wraps featuring photos and logos of area high school teams and college teams.

“We’ve got a Lynx table and a South Hamilton football table as well as Major League Baseball and NFL table,” he said. Above many of the tables are large wooden mascots matching the table’s theme.

The menu at the Saloon has also changed.

“Right now, we’re starting with a light menu,” Tami Olson said. “Our pizza product is different, we have burgers and we kept the Big Cheese, which was a big item at the Saloon. And we’ve added flat breads.”

She said that they will be adding more to the menu as time goes on.

The Olsons stressed that the establishment is a great place for families to gather for dinner or to watch a game on one of the many television sets in the room.

“So far, we’ve seen all ages coming in. We’ve had families and kids, we’ve seen teenagers and college kids. We’ve had middle-aged folks and seniors,” he said.

The pandemic restrictions mean that they can’t have customers standing or sitting at the bar and they have taped off some tables to allow for the appropriate social distancing. The Olsons said their distributors have helped them with the complicated and ever-changing restrictions for bars and restaurants.

The business is not doing delivery right now as they get up and running, but they plan to offer that service in the future. They do offer carryout service and have even brought orders to customers curbside.

Those who’ve visited the Saloon in the past will recognize several familiar items. The bare-brick walls behind the bar and along the north wall are still there, as is the large lighted pizza slice on the wall.

Outside the sports bar on the front window is a small nod to the man who operated the Saloon for all those years. The sign says, “Webster City’s Original Sports Bar.”

“That was what Larry Ross always said. The Saloon was a sports bar before that was a ‘thing,'” Greg Olson said.

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