Pharos-Tribune

November 24, 2013

Old Style's new style

Downtown bar reinvents itself as pub

by Sarah Einselen Pharos-Tribune
Pharos-Tribune

---- — Since St. Patrick’s Day, the neon sign above Old Style Inn’s door has hung dark.

That’s about to change.

The downtown Logansport hangout owned by Scott and Beth Jones has undergone a facelift since closing March 18 after St. Patrick’s Day festivities. After several months of remodels to both the interior and exterior, the Jones couple hopes to reopen by Thanksgiving.

The interior’s changed — new seating, new metallic ceiling tiles, new decor, a new pool table, even an aquarium behind the bar, flanked by row upon row of beers. More neon lights illuminate the interior, and a 12-foot steel ceiling fan circulates above the bar just in front of the entry. An outside fence delineates space for a beer garden at the rear of the building.

There’s more space inside, too — about 800 square feet of it. An open kitchen near the end of the bar lets patrons watch cook Sonny Walker handle preparations on the expanded menu, including smoked prime steak.

Awnings on the outside, funded in part by a downtown revitalization grant, sport the hangout’s redesigned logo — a woman in a martini glass, a nod to the Old Style Inn’s original logo from decades past.

“We want to be a participant in creating another option in this town to hopefully give people a reason to stay in town,” said Scott Jones.

“And maybe a reason for people outside Logansport to come to our town,” added Beth Jones.

The facade funding program of downtown revitalization organization Logan’s Landing covered $4,699.98, or half the cost of the outside awnings, according to Logan’s Landing director Becki Harris.

“We’re very pleased that the Old Style will be reopening soon and we’re happy to have been a part of their renovation,” Harris said. “Scott Jones has invested a significant amount of money into renovating that property and turning it into a very upscale, attractive downtown business.”

The Jones couple bought Old Style Inn 18 years ago. Since then, “we came to the conclusion that it was time to get out, or change the direction of the business,” said Scott Jones, “and try to fill a void that we thought the community had.”

“We’re trying to create an atmosphere here that’s user-friendly to the young person that’s turning 21, to their parents — to be able to share a common experience.”

Diners at a soft opening Wednesday night said they were impressed with the result.

“Just the updated look, the amazing remodel they did ... We needed this in Logansport,” said Dave Price. “I think the more quality selection we have, the better the competition becomes. Everybody steps it up a notch.”

Price dined with a native of the United Kingdom, Guy Winter. Hailing from Bristol, Winter said he’d thought of opening a bar in Logansport after moving to town — and if he had, it would have felt like the Old Style Inn.

“I think a lot of places in Logansport are either sports-oriented or a bar,” said Winter, gesturing to several TVs mounted high on the Old Style Inn’s walls. “This caters to both.”

The beer garden out back is hugely attractive, he added, as well as is the additional space in case people want to dance to the jukebox music.

“This is exactly how I would’ve done it,” said Winter. “It really is.”

One familiar scent is missing inside — that of cigarettes held in the hands of Old Style’s patrons.

“We feel that’s what’s best for our business,” said Scott Jones. However, Beth Jones added, the fenced-in space in the rear of the building serves to accommodate those who do wish to light up.

Scott Jones had questioned how patrons would respond to the change to non-smoking. But so far, it’s been positive, he said — and a “pleasant surprise.”

Wednesday night, one woman who formerly smoked said she was grateful for the smoke-free air.

“It’s just the fact that you can leave here and not smell like a cigarette,” said Kim Walker, a Logansport resident who called the new atmosphere “awesome.”

The Jones couple was aiming for a “nice pub” atmosphere, said Beth Jones, with craft beers, smoked and grilled meats and salads to go with the drinks.

“He’s hit it,” Walker commented.

Scott Jones also envisioned “a relaxed atmosphere with zero tolerance for — misbehavior,” he said, choosing his words slowly. He plans to eliminate DJs from the entertainment and bring in live musicians periodically.

The Joneses hadn’t expected the renovations to take so long. However, as work began, Scott Jones decided to modify or expand portions to the project — and the age of the building itself proved to lengthen the process, he added.

“It’s an old building. It’s not like we had a schematic to follow,” said Scott Jones. “As you’re remodeling, you have different things you run into.”

And he still anticipates a few “growing pains” as the business gets back into gear.

“We are not going to have this right out of the box,” he said. “We want the community’s support and input.”

Sarah Einselen is news editor at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151. Twitter: @PharosSME