Two Story City residents are planning to turn the vacant Hickory’s Hall building into a bar and event center, catering to bikers, concert goers and families over the next several months.
Matt Merical, co-owner of Baffles Bar and Events Center, said the bar’s inspiration comes from biker bars in Savanna, Ill., where motorcycle riders from the region congregate on Sundays to listen to live music.
Merical, who is also co-owner of a motorcycle dealership in Des Moines, said the central Iowa area doesn’t currently have a location for bikers to ride to, so he and co-owner Nick Ante decided to open the bar.
“It’s going to be friendly for bike motorcycle events, but it’s not a biker bar,” he said. “It’s going to have multiple themes.”
Josh Duchene, a promotional partner with Baffles, said the market for a regional biker spot is still ready for the taking.
“I don’t there’s a destination of this stature where it’s big enough to host the kind of crowd we’re going to bring,” he said.
The owners plan to install permanent indoor and outdoor stages for concerts. Merical said Baffles would target local bands for gigs, along with previously-popular acts that “wouldn’t necessarily fill Wells Fargo (Arena),” but would outsell a local bar show.
The location, at 300 S. 17th St., has previously been home to several bars and was last used as Hickory’s Hall, a wedding and banquet hall catered by Hickory Park. It was closed two years ago and remained vacant ever since.
The bar’s interior and exterior are expected to have major makeovers, with a fresh coat of paint on the outside and an interior renovation including an expanded bar, main stage, private area upstairs and an outside beer garden.
When it’s not hosting a concert, Baffles will also be available to rent for wedding receptions and other events, Merical said.
Merical said the bar’s grand opening is expected to come sometime next spring. In the meantime, Baffles will host weekly Sunday events at its location with local food trucks, live music and games for a family audience. The event will run from 2 to 10 p.m. each Sunday through the next several weeks.