Bar's plan adds volleyball courts

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Friday, August 7, 2009
— Matt DeWitt doesn't want to open "just another bar."

That's why the Janesville native has designs to include sand volleyball courts and leagues at the bar he and partner Kim Brown plan to open in the former Basics Co-op on Woodman Road in Janesville.

DeWitt and Brown hope to open Sneakers Sports Bar & Grill in October using 3,000 square feet of the building that also houses Rogan's Shoes.

Their plan is likely to be presented to the city's plan commission and city council in September.

In the interim, however, there will be some discussion between the owners and City Hall on the proposed volleyball courts.

Gale Price, the city's manager of building and development services, said the property is a reasonable location for a bar.

"But the hang-up might be the volleyball courts," he said. "It's an unknown for us, and it would be relatively close to a residential area."

Outdoor volleyball courts would be a new conditional-use for a Janesville tavern, he said.

"If you look at other markets, outdoor volleyball is a significant thing," Price said. "We just don't know what the impact on the neighborhood would be, although to their credit the business owners have said they will shut the volleyball off at 10 p.m."

Price said he's not sure what kind of recommendation his department will attach to the proposal. He said his office will work with DeWitt and Brown on the project.

DeWitt said he understands the city's concerns and will do all he can to alleviate them. He's successfully operated outdoor volleyball in the five years he's owned Snuffy's Still outside of Milton.

"Snuffy's is a respected place with a good track record," DeWitt said. "Like the city, we don't want problems, either."

DeWitt said he plans to offer a variety of volleyball leagues that run the gamut from just-for-fun to competitive.

DeWitt and Price said the Sneakers' proposal recently was presented to neighbors. There were a few comments from some neighbors concerned about the bar's proximity to the Little League baseball fields.

Price said that the fields, which are used only during the day, aren't a concern for the city.

Other comments, DeWitt and Price said, came from neighbors who are anti-tavern.

"Some of them have a history with another bar in the neighborhood that they say created horrific problems for them," Price said.

That bar, Slick's, is long gone from its Milton Avenue site.

Brown said Sneakers will be a bar and grill that's committed to the neighborhood and the community. Snuffy's, where she has worked for years, has a long history of community support, she said.

DeWitt and Brown will lease the space from Sara Investment Real Estate in Middleton. With the city's approval, they'll renovate their section of the building. A kitchen will produce daily specials and homemade pizzas, as well as food that goes a little beyond tradition bar food, Brown said.

Live music is part of the future, they said, and new employees will be hired.

"We're definitely committed to the neighborhood," DeWitt said. "Local is where I'm at with this."

Last updated: 11:12 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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