Next week, Barry Parsons hopes to open The Water Tower under a water tower.
Parsons, owner of The Water Tower Bar & Grill at 458 Rock Hill Road in Jefferson City, took the name from a bar he frequented in his northern Illinois hometown. Still, the name will fit the bar all the same when it opens under the shadow of a nearby 160-foot water tower.
"I went through 30 different names," Parsons said.
Parsons hoped to open The Water Tower Bar & Grill shortly after Christmas, but said the bar will likely open next week after New Year's Day as state and city agencies sign off on permits and licenses. In Wheelhouse Pizza's former location, the establishment will serve burgers, beers and pizza. One of its signatures, the Skirt Burger, will be a super cheesy burger, Parsons said.
The Water Tower will feature six beers on tap. Craft selections, like rotating India pale ale beers and brews by Kansas City's Boulevard Brewing Co., will complement standard North American lagers like Coors Light and Miller Lite.
When Wheelhouse Pizza closed in August, the building's landlord contacted Parsons, who Parsons said he knows. After looking all over the area for a location, Parsons said, he went with the Rock Hill Road spot because the space is like new.
He's been working on the project for about a month and a half. Instead of buying a keg cooler for the bar, he ran lines from the cold storage unit to the bar so he could better keep all of the kegs cool.
Parsons works as an estimator for a highway contractor. To him, everything about the experience of opening a restaurant — from buying new kitchen equipment to creating a menu — is new. He settled on a burger menu pretty quickly but said it's taken several tries to get the right kind of beer-battered french fries and onion rings.
He teamed up with his sister Colleen Fletcher, who just retired after more than 20 years at Westminster College in Fulton.
"I told her I've got money to invest, but I'm afraid to do it all on my own," Parsons said.
The pair made upgrades big and small to the space, like buying a new prep table and new bottle cooler.
The bar will have live music about three days a week, he said, with karaoke once a week and bands two nights per week.
In the months following the bar's opening, Fletcher and Parsons also expect to add an outdoor patio for guests.
"I figured just get the doors open and hopefully we can get work on the patio done before people are ready to sit outside," Parsons said.
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