‘Like you’re at the game’

Published 9:11 pm Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sports bar and grill opens in old Knights of Columbus building


In continuation with the revitalization of the south side of Albert Lea, Bleachers Sports Bar & Grill opens Thursday to become the most recent installment.

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Located in the old Knights of Columbus building on South Broadway, Bleachers is owned by longtime friends Jason Hoiseth and James Hagen. The idea to open the bar came up around one year ago when Hagen decided to act on his longtime idea of opening his own bar and restaurant.

“We started talking about it and looking at pricing, and it kind of just all came together,” Hoiseth said. “Our ideas were all about the same. We had the same vision. We just wanted to have a really fun, safe, clean place to be, focused on sports and really good food.”

Hoiseth said once they took over the building, there were no major changes they needed to make the building an operational bar and restaurant. Aside from the painting and putting a modern spin on what was already there, Hoiseth said the projects have been small.

Hoiseth said the hardest part about getting ready for the opening was finding out what the community wants.

“When you start talking about it, you can get 100 people with 100 different ideas,” Hoiseth said. “The hardest part is deciphering the good ideas from the bad ideas. It’s fun because you get grandiose ideas, but then when you have to put them in practical use, that’s probably been the hardest.”

Although the bar will officially be open starting at 4 p.m. Thursday, there will be an event Saturday when the bar will host the band My Sweet Violet. They will have a grand opening in around a month’s time, according to Hoiseth, once they get the hang of their operation.

In continuation with the revitalization of the south side of Albert Lea, Bleachers Sports Bar & Grill opens Thursday to become the most recent installment. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

With a restaurant seating area, a full bar, multiple TVs and a stage area, Bleachers aims to cater to anyone who decides to stop in, according to Hagen.

“There’s the older generation who might stop in for a meal a little earlier in the evening, then the middle-aged crowd like me will come in for the second shift, then around 9 o’clock we turn it over to the younger crowd and let them have fun,” Hagen said. “I’m just fortunate I’ll be here to see it all.”

For the initial opening, the food menu will include hamburgers, cheese steaks, an assortment of appetizers and other items. Once in full operation, Hoiseth and Hagen said they hope to partner with the Knights of Columbus and host steak nights like the Knights of Columbus held before they closed the doors.

“One of the things I think people are going to like, especially sports fans, is that you’re going to get the sound, the stadium food, they’re going to get everything,” Hoiseth said. “What I’ve been telling people is just because you’re not at the game doesn’t mean you can’t feel like you are. That’s the type of atmosphere we’re going to have on the bar end. You’re going to get your nachos, your dogs, your popcorn, all that stuff. It’s going to feel like you’re at the game.”

With the addition of Thirsty Fox Pub, DAE Liquor and the moving of Slumberland and Domino’s, the south part of Albert Lea has been under a sort of renaissance period — something Hoiseth said he is proud to be a part of.

“I love the fact that this side of town is growing back up,” Hoiseth said. “I think we need it. I love the fact that the Thirsty Fox is open too. I think we can only benefit from each other and help each other out. One of the things James and I talked about before we opened was that we’re about collaborating in the community. We want to be a part of the community.”

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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