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New owners set to take over Farmington American Legion this week

The marquee outside the Farmington American Legion said it all Tuesday night. The Legion building changed hands this week, and reopens Friday as Tailgaters.

The Farmington American Legion building will get a new name this week, but bigger changes than that will have to wait for at least a little while.

New owners Craig Loeschke and Howard W. Nissen were scheduled to finalize their purchase of the Legion Wednesday. They expected to close but business for a couple of days to handle payroll and other issues related to the transition, then open again Friday as Tailgaters Sports Bar and Grill.

The building itself won't change much while the bar and restaurant is closed, but Loeschke and Nissen have plans to give the club a makeover. They want to add windows and take down a wall that currently divides the bar area from an area that serves as both restaurant seating and a spot for wedding receptions and other private events. They plan to add a moveable wall so that area can still be closed off when necessary.

When they are done, they hope to have a sports bar along the lines of Buffalo Wild Wings, someplace families can come during the day and sports fans can catch a game at night. They expect to add several televisions to the dining area once they take out the wall.

They hope to start working on the windows and on repairs to the club's deck within a month and have all of their projects done in time for December's popular Krombombolie event, a longtime tradition at the Legion.

The whole process has already taken a little longer than the new owners had hoped. They reached an agreement to buy the Legion building in March, but Loeschke said a backlog caused by last year's state shutdown slowed down funding they hoped to get from the Small Business Administration.

Now, though, they are ready to move ahead. On Monday, Losechke and Nissen were working through some last-minute details. Their menus will be delivered on Thursday.

"It's really exciting," Loeschke said Monday. "I'm nervous."

The new menus will include some changes, among them the addition of more Mexican food.

The Legion is not going away completely. The club will continue to sell pull tabs from Tailgaters and will hold its regular Bingo nights and omelet breakfast fundraisers.

Loeschke, a Navy veteran, said in March he thinks it is important to help the Legion.

Tailgaters will celebrate its grand opening with a big party the weekend of Aug. 17. There will be a family fun event from 4 to 7 p.m. April 17 and a performance by Judas Priest and Poison cover bands that night. Hairball will play a show Aug. 18 and there will be a breakfast buffet from 7 a.m. to noon Aug. 19.

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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