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Bar and grill with hometown feel
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Bar and grill with hometown feel

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For around six months, a Clatonia couple has been offering area residents a place to go for food, drink and fun after the former restaurant in town closed.

Sheila’s Bar and Grill, owned by Dennis and Sheila VanLaningham, opened at 210 Washington St. in Clatonia last fall at the former location of Legends of Clatonia.

After Legends relocated to Beatrice, the couple – Sheila was a longtime employee of Legends when it was in Clatonia – decided to keep the location open, while making changes to better serve the community.

“We’re trying to look at different things to do for people so they can come down and have a good time,” Dennis said. “We have two different types of people who come in, those who come in for dinner and then those who come down later in the day and are more of the bar type.”

The building is essentially split into three areas. There’s a dinner room, a “Husker room” with sit down space in a sports atmosphere, and a game room with foosball and poll tables that sit near the recently-renovated bar.

The bar aspect was an important addition, as Sheila said the previous business in the location failed to make everyone comfortable.

“When the other place closed it was more out of towners that were here,” she said. “The locals wanted a bar. I said we would try it. I knew what they wanted so we decided to try to accommodate them.

“It just wasn’t a hometown atmosphere before. It was more upper class. The local didn’t feel comfortable coming in here because they thought they had to be dressed up. Here, I’ve had people come in right after they got done calving. You come in as you are. We all know each other, we don’t care. It’s more of a casual atmosphere.”

Dennis lived in Clatonia since he was a fifth grader, and Sheila, a native of DeWitt, has lived in Clatonia since the couple was married nearly 39 years ago.

Sheila’s Bar and Grill hosts sports parties on a regular basis, and offers special meal deals for holidays like New Yaer’s and Valentine’s Day.

The menu has several offerings, including pizza, hamburgers, ribeye steak, and chicken fried steak.

But guests don’t have to be afraid to make special requests at Sheila’s.

“We had a playoff party and one of the guys came back here and asked for a beer brat and sauerkraut pizza,” Sheila said. “So we made it. That’s what they do. They ask if we can whip something up, and I say ‘OK.’”

“We like to listen to what people want and try to do some of the stuff that they want,” Dennis added. “Mostly, we’ll try anything if somebody wants it.”

Sheila’s Bar and Grill is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, 5-9 p.m. for dinner and bar hours after that, with plans to add Sunday hours sometime in February.

Dennis added the bar hours, like the menu, can change depending on what people want, and that the people have been the best part of the business.

“The people have all been really good,” he said. “It’s fun to have everybody laughing. We’ve had it pretty well packed in here and just seeing everybody having a good time is amazing. It’s amazing how many people we can get here at the bar area.”

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