Another round for Chico’s 19th Hole - Bar opens with new insides and management

Bartender Jennifer Dowdle looks at the pull tabs with two visitors to Kelly’s 19th Hole Sports Bar and Grill Monday. The bar opened Feb. 4 with a new look and under new management. - Kristin Okinaka/staff photo
Bartender Jennifer Dowdle looks at the pull tabs with two visitors to Kelly’s 19th Hole Sports Bar and Grill Monday. The bar opened Feb. 4 with a new look and under new management.
— image credit: Kristin Okinaka/staff photo

The Buddha figure sitting on the top shelf above the liquor bottles isn’t the only new accent to Chico’s 19th Hole. A lot has changed.

“It’s like night and day,” said Ken Axtman of Seabeck. “It was dark and dingy before — wasn’t very inviting. It’s set up a lot better.”

A longtime fixture in Chico, the 19th Hole closed its doors last March because of financial troubles by the bar’s Seattle owner.

But the owner of the building, Richard Gates, considered reopening the bar himself. Soon he was in talks with his friend, Bob Kelly. Because the facility was worn down, a lot of construction and remodeling took place from July until Kelly’s 19th Hole Sports Bar and Grill opened Feb. 4.

“I either had to eat my money or invest in more, so here I am,” Gates said at the bar’s opening. Gates, 71, of Chico, paid about $400,000 for the building’s remodel.

Kelly, 64, owns the new bar with his wife, Peggie Kelly, and has a staff of 12 including his son Ryan Kelly, the bar manager, and step-son Andrew Medsker, the kitchen manager. He hopes his family can “keep this thing rolling.”

But before the facility was up and running, seven months of construction took place. The kitchen was moved to the opposite side of the building and the ceiling was redone, Bob Kelly said. The outside smoking area in the back was made bigger and a roof was added. Nearly everything is brand new or has been redone, Kelly said.

The windows and the bar frame remained the same, said Jim Fowler, a contractor that was part of the remodel group. This had been the biggest remodel to the 70-year-old bar. The 19th Hole used to be at another location up the street from its current spot on Erlands Point Road. About 40 years ago it was uprooted to where it sits today.

“There’s a lot of history to the place,” Fowler said. “We tried to keep what we could and got rid of everything else.”

Bob Kelly decided to keep the bar’s name and add his family’s name to it because “it’s been the 19th Hole forever.”

Seven flat screen TVs surround the walls of the bar. There’s a pool table. On opening day, former 19th Hole go-ers and new patrons mingled and had a drink while a Justin Timberlake track played in the background. Bob Kelly said he wants the place to be a neighborhood tavern that anyone would feel comfortable walking into. They have 18 beers on tap, a wine selection and a food menu including the “Emergency Nine” where bites like chicken skewers or tacos are $5.

Other golf terms are scattered throughout the bar’s menu. Bob Kelly was a professional golfer from 1978 to 1985 and previously taught golf lessons at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton. He’s lived in Bremerton for more than 30 years and said he has a “golfing family.” Both sons Ryan and Troy had received golf scholarships during college. Troy played at a PGA tournament in Phoenix last weekend. Golf memorabilia is displayed in the bar and Bob Kelly has already made some connections in running the business to teaching golf. It’s about making a nice experience for the people, he said.

“I just like seeing all the people,” Bob Kelly said. “You’re making people happy.”

Robyn Tanguay and her husband had frequented the bar before and wanted to check out the new place — they had their wedding there in August of 2008. After being there for about an hour, Tanguay noticed the better pull tabs, nicer details of the interior and friendly service.

“I think it’s going to stay,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a hit.”

Kelly’s 19th Hole Sports Bar and Grill

2171 Erlands Point Road NW, Bremerton

(360) 373-4600

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