Downtown Janesville gets new bar and grill

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007
— Four women are serving up good karma in the former Hilltop International Restaurant at 123 E. Milwaukee St.

The partners have practically gutted the inside, opening and brightening the interior and exposing a cream-brick wall.

Cindy Martin and Tami Likely of Janesville and Terri Gilbertson and Erin Schuster of Beloit will open Karma’s Bar and Grill in the next few weeks.

The Victorian structure was built in 1846 as the London Pub Regency Hotel, duplicating a building in London. Over the years it had fallen into disrepair, and in 1994 the upper hotel floors were ordered closed by the city.

Martin, who works at General Motors, had wanted to open a restaurant for a long time. All four women have food and bartending experience.

Martin bought the place Oct. 1 and had hoped to be open within a few weeks. But as the cleaning and renovating got started, the women kept finding things that needed fixing.

The women have done the work themselves, with the exception of the carpentry. That has meant a lot of cleaning and clearing.

“Once we started cleaning and throwing, we had to back up trailers to go to the dump,” Likely said.

Gilbertson was wielding a hammer when it went through the drywall. She discovered a wall of cream-city brick. The women exposed the wall, which softens the interior and gives it character.

They stuccoed the walls and wainscoted the horseshoe-shaped bar. They plan to build a back bar featuring antique stained glass from upstairs.

The building totals 7,500 square feet. An upstairs room with a curved window in the turret would in the future make a great martini lounge, Martin said. A wonderful fireplace is upstairs as well.

Schuster is looking for old photos from downtown Janesville that the women hope to hang on the walls.

Hours will be 6:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., and the women plan to serve coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Specialties will include gyros and Tami’s tacos. A limited menu will be available after 9 p.m.

The focus is on creating a clean, friendly, comfortable environment, Martin said.

“Everyone’s just excited that something new is coming in,” Gilbertson said. “They can see we’re just taking junk out in droves, and all good things are happening in here.”

The establishment’s foundation is built on relationships and memories of good friends, Gilbertson said.

“It’s someplace you can come and improve your karma.”

Last updated: 9:49 am Monday, December 17, 2012

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