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More room to party:Blondie's Tavern builds a bigger bar

There are still some finishing touches, but the expanded bar at Blondie's Tavern is open for business.

When Jeff and Stacy Schlichter built Blondie's Tavern a year and a half ago, they did the best they could to predict the kind of restaurant Farmington residents would want. But they also left a little room to modify their floorplan, just in case.

Now that flexibility is paying off. The couple recently completed a renovation that knocks out a conference room and adds space to their bar area.

Jeff Schlichter said this week it became clear over the summer that there was a lot more demand for the bar than there was for a conference room. A Tuesday night Texas Hold 'Em event has been drawing about 48 people each week, and special events like Ladies' Nights and DJ performances have drawn big crowds. Schlichter said there's been more than one occasion when he's seen people walk in, look at the crowded bar and walk right back out.

"Starting out we knew that change was inevitable. The hospitality business is all about change," Schlichter said. "Our late-night business is growing faster than anticipated. It was a common occurrence that the bar was filling up."

As problems go, a too-crowded bar is one that most business owners would be happy to have.

"It's a good problem to have, but it's a problem that needed to be addressed," Schlichter said.

The couple did nearly all of the renovation work themselves. They knocked out a wall and extended their bar. They reclaimed wood from the trim around the windows they removed and used it on the new parts of the bar.

They added a new wood floor in the former conference room and brought in dart boards and other games. Schlichter said the new space will allow more flexibility for events like the poker night. That will be particularly important in January, when the restaurant plays host to a regional competition that could eventually send a competitor to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

Schlichter has a few ideas for events that will take advantage of the new space, but for now he's working on taking care of the finishing touches. On Tuesday he was still hanging signs on the wall.

He's happy with the change, though. He likes the way the new space flows together. Reaction from the public has been positive, too.

"The initial reactions are literally, 'Wow,'" Schlichter said. "I've had nothing but wonderful comments."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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