Campus-area restaurant Sportsmans Pub renovated

Students in the Southeast Como neighborhood might have noticed a difference in one of the local bars while walking down Como Avenue.

The Sportsmans Pub and Grille, located at 22nd and Como avenues, started renovating the day after Thanksgiving and is now called Sporty’s Pub and Grill.

Owner and manager Joe Radaich said although the renovations aren’t entirely done, the business had its “soft” opening on Jan. 8, meaning it wasn’t advertised but had an expanded menu.

The remodel was made possible through a $5,000 grant by the Southeast Como Improvement Association to return the building to its 1930s appearance, he said.

The association has a program for improving the exteriors of local businesses, Radaich said, which is about “dressing up” local businesses from the outside and improving neighborhood pride.

“They were really excited about the project because, one, it updates an older building, and two, the glass is a big plus for public safety,” he said. “There’s nothing on 22nd and Como that you can’t see with these windows.”

A grand reopening celebration is scheduled for a month from now, he said.

The windows facing 22nd Avenue and Como are now full-length, as they were in the building’s original design when the building was also a grocery store and barbershop, Radaich said.

When the building was remodeled in the ’70s, the windows were replaced with plywood and fiberglass.

Radaich said the floors and walls in the grill area, which used to be the grocery store section, were also restored to historical condition.

“These were the original plaster walls that people had in 1930,” Radaich said. “This was the floor they walked on in 1930.”

Eric Rotter, a University alumnus and master’s student at the College of St. Katherine’s, said he has been coming to Sportmans Pub for 11 years because he’s always lived in the neighborhood.

“I always know one of the eight people who are working here,” Rotter said. “It’s become my regular hangout.”

Joe Salsman, another regular who lives down the street, said he likes the atmosphere.

“It’s like a neighborhood ‘Cheers,’ ” he said.

Despite the bar’s renovation and long history, Sporty’s still has plenty of competition to deal with.

Larry Manning, owner of Manning’s Café across the street, said he first found out about the remodel when it actually began. Because Manning’s has been around for 75 years, he said it has seen a lot of competition come and go.

“If he wants to go into the food business, I wish him all the luck,” Manning said.