Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Know Nebraska: Eustis Pool Hall in Eustis, Nebraska

Eustis is a rarity in Nebraska - a thriving rural community! The high population was 497 in 1930, but it has held its own, with ups and downs, boasts a population of 401 at the 2010 census. The village has a proud German heritage which has been kept alive by many customs, foods and celebrations. On Jan. 8, 1993, Eustis was declared the "Sausage Capital of Nebraska" by the Nebraska Legislature.

The Eustis Chamber of Commerce lists 35 members, including the cornerstone businesses of the Eustis Body Shop (with locations in Eustis, Cozad, Lexington, Kearney and Grand Island), and the world-famous Village Pie Maker. The signature community event is Wurst Tag, always the Second Saturday in June- "A German heritage celebration similar to an Oktoberfest, Wurst Tag is a family celebration. Some of the events include the early morning Volkmarch and Road Race. During the day there are heritage contests, games, demonstrations and displays. The day concludes with a large German dinner, Polka dance and American street dance. Two large beer tents provide seating and shade during the day."
Our reason for visiting was to enjoy the incredible Eustis Pool Hall. I have been visiting the Eustis Pool Hall since the early 1980's, when their Mexican food was a favorite.
The Eustis Pool Hall doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside it is one of those local taverns we travel for. The staff is warm and friendly, the food and drink is delicious, and the decor shows pride of place, including the incredible cedar slab bar hand made from wood harvested locally. The other decor, including the windmill fan chandelier also tells a local story.
 The story of the Eustis Pool Hall is the story of what it takes to be a local entrepreneur. Though very popular locally, the Pool Hall had been closed for two years during 2013-2015. A local decided it was just too sad to have a hometown with no restaurant, so enlisted the help of her friends and family to reopen the restaurant and tavern. The opening day was on the Saturday of the Wurst Tag celebration in 2015.

Owning a bar and restaurant anywhere is a herculean task, but in a small town in rural Nebraska, especially so, as the labor pool to draw from is extremely limited. It can mean a work week that can easily be more than double the standard 40 hours.

In September of 2016, owner  Katrina Oaklund announced a merger with  Steven Frazier and Lonnie Labens, owners of Sweets and More in Cozad, with the end result to be the closing of Sweets and More and the purchase of the business by Frazier and Labens.

We haven't visited the Eustis Pool Hall for quite some time, but judging from the Facebook posts, the new business proposition is working out just fine, so it's time to make another road trip! Just as we did on our last trip there, locals and visitors are enjoying great food, great drinks and great fun.

When you go: The Eustis Pool Hall is located at 112 E Railroad St, Eustis, Nebraska, 69028. They have regular hours, opening six days a week at 11:00am. They are closed on Sundays. Call at (308) 486-5333.

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