While many people make sacrifices for their jobs, most don’t travel halfway across the country for them. However, a couple of new Beatrice restaurant owners are currently doing just that.
Risky’s Sports Bar at 2317 N. Sixth St. was recently purchased by Meghann and Brian Lawrence, a pair of business owners from Seattle Washington. The pair hopes to make serious changes at the restaurant, including a name change and the addition of a brewery.
Originally from central Washington, Meghann married Alliance native Brian Lawrence after meeting working in a resort in Arizona. Lawrence started her own chain of spas in the Pacific Northwest. Her husband is a trained brewer currently working for McMenamins Brewery in Washington.
Lawrence said the pair decided they wanted to move to Nebraska to raise their son, so they sold the spas and purchased Risky’s, which she said they have big plans for in many ways.
The couple looked at several restaurants across Nebraska but eventually chose Risky’s. Risky’s appeal, Lawrence said, was its large size compared to other options they considered.
Lawrence said the couple is hopeful that the brewery will be up and running within the year. They are not sure how they plan to adjust the building to accommodate the brewery, but she said they are sure they want to preserve the party room which is popular among customers.
The new owners are committed to listening to their customers and making sure that all the changes will go over well in Beatrice.
“For us it’s important to be a part of the community and listen to the community,” Lawrence said.
The couple also hopes to revamp the outdoor beer garden and hold community events to bring the people of Beatrice closer together. Lawrence said they hope to bring in live music, as that is important to both of them.
The restaurant has new kitchen equipment which they hope will allow their staff to get orders out faster. Lawrence said they are hopeful that the service and food quality will become more consistent, which comes through staff training.
Menu changes are coming as well. Risky’s will bring back its bourbon glazed steak, a former classic that was taken off the menu, as well as adding an new house specialty cream corn.
Lawrence said that with an expansive menu and a family friendly atmosphere, she thinks Risky’s will have something for everyone. She said the focus of the restaurant will always be on the customer.
“Understanding what guests are needing is important to us,” she said.
Lawrence said that since moving, she’s noticed a kind and welcoming atmosphere in Nebraska. She appreciates the support of the community and she is excited to get to know more people.
The Risky’s name will be changing, Lawrence said, and will be replaced with the name Locked Groove, referring to the final ring in a vinyl record that stops the needle.
Kitchen manager Jimmy Haynes has been with Risky’s since November, and he said the change in ownership has already had huge positive effects on the restaurant, especially on employee morale. He also said that the restaurant has been getting more positive reviews both through word of mouth and online.
Haynes said he is excited about the new menu items and he expects customers to enjoy them. Some things served as specials will be moving to the main menu, and new items will be added including a grilled cheese with pulled pork.
“We need the wow factor when it comes to food,” he said.
He said the new ownership has been refreshing and he’s excited to see where the restaurant goes.
“Meghann listens to the customers and she runs with it.” Haynes said.