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By Amber Hayden
CONNORSVILLE— For Matt Shepard the desire to own his own bar has been a dream of his since he was in eighth grade.
So when the opportunity came up to purchase Kistner’s Korner from Jayme Beyrer, Shepard dove in head first with support from his wife Laura.
His dream to own his own bar came after having to complete a project in the eighth grade where he had to write up a business proposal and from that moment on it had been in the back of his mind.
“I found this one and it came across at the right time and it all seemed to fall together,” he explained.
Matt graduated from Glenwood City high school in 2002, and seven years later, he and Laura were married in 2009 and moved to Downing before moving to Iowa for work and to get out on their own. But with the severe allergies of their son, which are anaphylactic, they moved back to Downing for support from their families.
“And this kind of came up as a great opportunity for him and I’m 100 percent behind my husband and our venture, and it’s nice to be back here with family,” Laura said. “My family lives in Forest.”
The Shepards’ have three children Phillip who is eight, Douglas is five, and Abigail who is six months old.
The couple agreed the location is great for them as it is located right off of State Highway 64 in Connorsville, they said, which is close to home for them in Downing.
The bar and grill held a soft opening on February 1 but will look to have their grand opening sometime in April or May once the weather is nicer, that way the bar will be able to have a band and make it a big shindig, Matt said.
The name will be one of many changes for the couple as they have decided to rename the bar Jack’s Bar and Grill which is named after the couples’ dog, Laura explained.
“We wanted to name it something that was relatable to us,” Laura said. “We wanted something that meant a little bit to us as well as something that if someone else down the road when we are ready to retire if our kids don’t want to be in that it could stay named the same.”
The couple were happy to know that when Jayme was ready to turn the bar over, they were the ones she trusted enough to give the reins to.
Laura’s belief is that it was a sense of family and that the bar wasn’t going to random strangers who had never been in the community.
“We are here as a family to grow a business,” she said.
The plans for the bar will be to update the point of sale system, expand the menu items, expand the dining area so people are able to accommodate more guests for parties as well as have a stage area for a band in order to have dances, as well as updating the kitchen.
“Also I want to eventually renovate the bathrooms or even build new ones,” Matt stated. “There’s nothing wrong with anything we just want to make it more modern.”
Laura and Matt are wanting to make their presence known in the community with different events including the possibility of sponsoring a softball team throughout the spring and summer seasons, and then adding possible dart and pool leagues.
“Any chance we can get ourselves out there is big for us,” she said.
Matt and Laura are in the process of getting the signs and logos set up for the bar, and have hopes in the near future to be changing the signs over from Kistner’s Korner to Jack’s Bar and Grill.
Along with Matt and Laura there are a few other bartenders who help sling drinks at the bar including Hope, Karen, John, and Sally; Amy helps Matt out in the kitchen, while Laura helps run the accounting side of things to keep Matt’s dream going.
Laura has only been back in Wisconsin since February 8 but plans to help do it all at the bar, she said, although her main focus is to keep her husband going functionally with his new business.
“I’m ok with the snow,” Matt said. “Because the trail is right behind us so keep it coming!”
The snowmobile trail runs along side the bar between the fence and the wood stove and continues on to the back side of the bar.
There will always be new items as well as an ever changing daily special, Matt explained.