PITTSBURG, Kan. — If everything goes according to plan and COVID-19 doesn’t get in the way, 5th Street Bar and Grill customers can look forward to a significantly expanded space to eat, drink, and play their favorite bar games a few months from now.
For more than two years, since the building next door was torn down, 5th Street co-owner Kyle Mullen has been looking to buy the vacant lot and turn it into what will at first be an outdoor patio area that connects to the existing bar and grill. Later the patio is planned to be enclosed into an adjoining building that will more than triple 5th Street’s overall maximum occupancy and provide a venue for events and music performances.
Mullen has arranged a deal with the Pittsburg Land Bank, which is run by the city government, to make improvements to the adjacent lot in phases. The first phase — which he hopes to complete in the spring of 2021 — involves getting all the architectural planning done, installing plumbing, pouring the concrete for the outdoor patio that will later be the floor of an enclosed building, building a wall on the south side of the property, and installing decorative wrought iron fencing on the north side similar to that at the front of the bar 505 on North Broadway.
“And then we’re going to use it as a giant outdoor beer garden for probably a year or so,” Mullen says.
The upstairs of 5th Street currently features 35 beers on tap. Those will be moved to the patio to serve the beer garden, which will also feature a big screen TV along with cornhole and other outdoor games.
“The plan’s open, so we can be flexible,” Mullen says. “Like right now, cornhole is the big thing. Next year it might be something else, but we’re going to leave it open to where we can just pull the cornhole out and put whatever else back in.”
The second phase of the project will involve installing bathrooms for the new adjacent building and beginning to build a roof over the patio, and the final phase will be to fully enclose it. At that point, Mullen says, the new building will feature shuffleboard, five dart boards, possibly more pool tables in addition to those the bar currently has, and a portable stage to allow bands to play.
For both 5th Street’s customers and its management, “the options are endless” for how the space will be able to be used, Mullen says. “If you want to sit out here and listen to a band, but you don’t like the band, but all your friends are here, you can go in there and watch the football game.”
The maximum occupancy of the new space will be 687 people — more than triple the 220 people that can currently legally occupy 5th Street Bar and Grill on its two floors.
Mullen plans to have all the work on the project to expand the bar and grill done by local Pittsburg contractors.
“At least people that work in Pittsburg or around Pittsburg, like I’m not going to Missouri or Kansas City or anything like that, so some may not live in Pittsburg, but they do a lot of work in Pittsburg,” Mullen says. “I’m trying to keep it as local as I can.”
Plans to expand the bar and grill have not been without their share of obstacles. When the building that formerly sat next door was demolished, the City of Pittsburg initially arranged to work with a Boston, Massachusetts-based developer to build high-end condominiums on the lot in a deal that eventually fell through.
“It’s kind of come full circle back to us,” Mullen says.
Mullen bought 5th Street with his father in late 2012. Roughly a decade later, he hopes, the project to significantly expand the bar and grill will be complete or nearing completion.
“It’ll be wild when it’s all said and done,” Mullen says. “It’ll be fun — a lot of work.”