People walking into Shay's Bar and Restaurant these days might say, "where's the bar?" But they will be pleasantly surprised to find that it has been moved and they can actually sit there now.
"The bar was right by the entrance," said Emily Saad El-dein, the manager. "No one sat at it."
Not only has the bar been moved, the entrance has as well. It's now lined up with the front lobby of the Best Western Marshall Inn so hotel guests can just look to the left and see down the hall where the bar and restaurant is.
Photo by Karin Elton
Shay’s manager, Emily Saad El-dein, stands in front of one of the new booths and an unusual art work, a rare motorcycle made in Minnesota. The bar and restaurant has been undergoing a renovation, which was completed in July. Shay’s is a part of the Best Western Marshall Inn, which is being updated as well.
"They can peek through the French doors," Saad El-dein said.
The new bar is larger, with more space for seating which is great for people who come in alone, but don't want to sit alone, Saad El-dein said.
It's also great for the bartenders who now have two exits to go in and out of and there's "a huge walk-in beer cooler in back," she said.
There used to be just one TV behind the bar; now there are many flat screens throughout the restaurant.
The layout and decor were all chosen by the owner, Scott Hicks, who bought back the Best Western last year after owning it in the 1990s.
Not only did Hicks renovate Shay's, but he is in the process of giving the whole hotel a new look, without closing the hotel or the restaurant.
The trick is doing things a section at a time.
"Each time customers came in, they noticed something else that had changed," Saad El-dein said.
At the restaurant there are new granite-topped tables and new booths, new carpet, even the ceiling has changed.
"The ceiling was low, with white tile," Saad El-dein said.
The tile has been removed and the exposed duct work has been sprayed black which gives the room a more spacious feel while giving the ceiling an interesting look, Saad El-dein said.
In addition to art and vendors' paraphernalia on the walls, there is a motorcycle on display.
"He had the wall cut out to fit the bike," Saad El-dein said. "Customers were wondering what was going to go in that."
The bike is an Excelsior-Henderson made in Belle Plaine.
"Only 100 were made," she said. "It's never been ridden. Scott said he didn't want to put a lot of miles on the bike, so he decided to put it on display."
In addition to the physical changes to the bar and restaurant the menu has been expanded. There is now a kids' menu featuring favorites such as macaroni and cheese and chicken tenders and for the more adventurous, penne marinara or penne alfredo. Instead of a single-paged laminated menu, there is a multi-paged menu with selections such as walleye, soup and an old favorite has been brought back, the Monte Cristo sandwich.
"The head cook who worked here before - Scott brought her back," Saad El-dein said. Her Monte Cristo was a customer favorite. The sandwich is a triple-decker, with ham, turkey and Swiss cheese on Texas toast which is made French toast style, with the addition of powdered sugar and hot strawberry sauce, which makes for a nice brunch.
Also, the restaurant offers "our own homemade pizzas now," she said. "A lot of people like those."
In one corner of the restaurant is a new breakfast bar, which is convenient to hotel guests and is open to the public as well.
Before the remodeling, Saad El-dein said, six foot tables were set up and removed each day for breakfast.
"The breakfast bar has its own little home now," she said. "They don't have to tear it down and put it up."
Also new is the Mustang Room, which is where the old bar was.
"It's a private meeting space for lunches, teams use it to watch video," she said.