WHITEFISH – If you build it, they will come. That’s particularly true when you include a heated rooftop bar.
The reincarnation of Casey’s Bar at the corner of Central Avenue and First Street is complete, after months of intense downtown construction and heavy community anticipation. And the final product speaks to the meticulous care that went into the building’s design and construction: five levels of entertainment opportunities threaded together by beautiful Montana reclaimed wood and brick.
At a recent soft opening, people getting an initial glimpse of the bar sampled complimentary food samples and admired the craftsmanship of a place that no longer resembles the antiquated building that preceded it. The previous bar was built in the early 1900s and had been called Casey’s since the 1960s.
Eric Payne, the owner of Frontier Builders, purchased Casey’s in 2011 and discovered it had numerous flaws in its structural integrity, flaws that started underground in the foundation and persisted throughout the building. Payne bulldozed it and started over.
The project was a large undertaking, with significant work necessary below the ground before above-surface construction could even begin. But as Payne greeted people last week at the soft opening, he had the look of someone who knows the work was worth the wait. Casey’s official opening was Aug. 31.
The new 17,000-square-foot nightclub features fives stories, including a working basement and the rooftop. The basement has a full kitchen, while both the first floor and rooftop bar have grills with their own menus. Soups, sandwiches, salads and burgers are available, as are specialty dishes like fish and Thai tacos, baby back ribs and kabobs.
The main level features a comfortable sitting area up front, inviting for a glass of wine or cold beer and a bite to eat. Much of the rest of the space is dedicated to a pub and grill with gaming machines in the back.
Most of the second level is a large dance area with a bar and a third-story overlooking mezzanine, though toward the front a small set of stairs takes people up to a stylish lounge area with couches. That area opens up into a patio over Central and First.
Then there’s the spacious rooftop level. At the opening last week, visitors kicked back in couches, chatted with each other in cushy chairs and sat at the bar, drinking and eating food that came fresh from the grill.
The rooftop bar has a heated floor with ample gas heaters to make it suitable for wintertime use. The wood used to construct the bar came from a Mississippi cotton mill built in the 1800s.
Casey’s is a complete “smart building,” with all lighting, audio, video, security and cameras controlled through a single management system with an iPhone or similar device. Kevin Guercio is the bar manager and his wife Heidi Guercio is the kitchen manager.
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