21-and-over bar expected to open after spring break

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Jane Louis

Nightlife for students 21 and older at the University is about to become more upscale with the opening of Firehaus, a new bar on campus, according to owner Scott Cochrane.

Construction of the bar began two years ago with renovations to the former R&R; Sports Grill at 708 S. Sixth St. Firehaus originally was expected to open in the fall of 2003.

“We closed originally to do a facelift two years ago,” he said. “Then we got in there and found some problems, some structural issues, some cracked beams. One thing led to another, and we kind of redid the whole thing.”

Cochrane said the two-story bar – scheduled to open after spring break – will focus on visuals instead of music.

“With the firehouse theme, there’s going to be a collection of helmets from around the world,” he said. “There are different antiques we have gotten as well, like axes.”

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He said the bar will have a dome ceiling, a vaulted half barrel ceiling and extensive tile work in the walls as well as other elaborate features. Cochrane said the glass doors resembling firehouse garage doors on the front of the building roll away to give patrons an open-air experience. The beer garden, a two-story outside patio, will feature televisions inlayed in the walls and old-fashioned lights, according to Cochrane.

Cochrane said Firehaus will have a minimum age requirement of 21 and compete with bars that traditionally appeal to older students, such as Brothers, Murphy’s Pub and Legends.

“There is no upperclassman bar on the University of Illinois campus anymore,” Cochrane said. “With the changing environment, it just made sense to start going for an older clientele.”

But Sylvia Marciniec, sophomore in applied life studies, said she does not think Firehaus will be as popular as other campus bars because the age requirement limits the number of students who can visit the bar.

“I don’t think the bar is going to get that much business,” she said.

Firehaus also will be competing with the three bars for food service. Cochrane said Firehaus will feature a menu that contains a variety of foods, from hamburgers and cheeseburgers to more unique and health-conscious foods.

“I go out to Cheddar’s or T.G.I. Friday’s or whatever [off-campus] chain restaurant, and I always see lots of college kids,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why not give them a place they can walk to?'”

Cochrane, a member of the Champaign Liquor Advisory Commission, said underage students will be allowed in the bar to eat, but they will have to leave before 9 p.m.

Sara Disney, senior in engineering, said she probably will not go to Firehaus because she expects the bar to be more laid back.

“The atmosphere is different in that kind of bar,” she said.

But Cochrane said he wants the community to see how Firehaus will be different than other campus bars.

“I’m really going to market toward the community, and I want them to feel comfortable with (Firehaus) as a restaurant.”