Riley's Sport's Bar & Grill to offer a lofty view in downtown Janesville

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Marcia Nelesen
Sunday, August 24, 2014

JANESVILLE—It will be bottoms up on the roof when the owner of a downtown bar opens a rooftop patio later this year.

The outdoor seating area on the second floor of Riley's Sport's Bar & Grill, 209 W. Milwaukee St., will be the first of its kind in Janesville. Owner Kevin Riley said his goal is to continue to set his business apart from others.

Riley, 38, hopes to open the second-floor bar and outdoor area in time for Janesville's Irish Fest on Oct. 2 to 5.

Riley has continued to upgrade his building since he bought the former Weirdo's about 2 years ago.

Riley earlier added windows to the building's east wall, which was exposed after the structure next door was torn down and the lot turned into public parking. Riley resurfaced the exterior of the wall and plans to match that to the front entrance.

City officials at the time lauded Riley for improving the looks of the entire area.

What had once been a dark, narrow interior now has a bright, clean open look.

Riley also improved and enlarged the restrooms.

“I get a lot of, 'Wow!'s from customers who notice the difference over the last two years,” Riley said. “It's only a three-letter word, but it's real nice when you hear a customer saying it.”

The building dates to the late 1800s. Riley has researched its history and knows it was a saloon before 1930.

The second floor was vacant when Riley bought it, and he said he has been planning for the rooftop venue for two years.

Customers will access the second floor from a new staircase in the front of the building, which faces Milwaukee Street. Customers will enter the beer garden from the second-floor bar. A back staircase will serve as an emergency exit. Riley plans to add umbrellas, tables and lighting.

“Nobody has anything close to it around here,” Riley said.

The addition will increase his capacity, and Riley said he has needed more space.

The rooftop will offer patrons lofty views of the downtown, and the Rock River should be visible when the city tears down the vacant furniture building at 55 S. River St.

Riley has operated businesses downtown for 15 years, beginning when he opened the nearby Riley's On The Green, which includes an indoor golf simulator.

Riley said he believes in the downtown and will continue to invest in it. He said he also believes in city officials and is happy with the help they have given.

Downtown has gone from a “crumbly, old area to being a really nice downtown,” Riley said, noting the stores and restaurants that have opened.

Riley has one more improvement to his building brewing, but he said he would keep that for a surprise.

Last updated: 4:05 pm Sunday, August 24, 2014

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