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Jack Gross remembers the exact day he bought Duggan's Pub.

Gross, who had worked at Ben Simon's and later N Street Drive-In, bought what was then called Sam's Pub on the Friday before Nebraska upset top-ranked Oklahoma in November 1978, coach Tom Osborne's first win over the Sooners.

The bar, then across the street from The Night Before strip club, was owned by former Husker football player Carl Samuelson.

Gross renamed it Duggan's Pub and has run it for 37 years, nearly 15 years in its original location and then for about 22 more about a block to the south.

The bar at various times has been a hangout for bikers, veterans, judges, state senators and others. What it's perhaps best known for is its live music.

That's all coming to an end next month. Gross has sold the bar, and its last day will be March 17, St. Patrick's Day.

"I'm 70 years old, and I'm going to retire," said Gross.

He said he tried to find someone who would continue to run the bar but didn't get any acceptable offers.

The offer he did get is from a Lincoln businessman who has big plans for the building at 440 S. 11th St.

Gary Steer, a real estate developer who also owns an energy drink distributorship, plans to completely gut and remodel the inside of the 7,100-square-foot building and redo the outside.

His plans for the building do include a restaurant and bar, though he envisions something more upscale that will appeal to the professional people working in the area.

"There are so many businesspeople in that area that have no place to eat," Steer said.

He's had interest, he said, from a locally owned deli and a locally owned restaurant and bar that already has two Lincoln locations.

Steer is hoping to find a tenant to take the entire space but said he is willing to split it into two or three spaces, depending on market interest.

He's so intent on having a restaurant and bar there that he said he will open one himself if other possibilities don't materialize, and he's putting all the equipment in storage just in case.

What is not likely to be part of the bar going forward, however, is live entertainment.

"The live entertainment thing -- I don't know that that's the location for that any more," Steer said.

That's disappointing for Paul Burner to hear.

Burner, one of the members of the Wheezetones, a band that's played at Duggan's "nine or 10 times a year for the last 15 years," said he and his band mates had known for quite some time that the bar was for sale, so the recent announcement didn't come as a surprise.

But it was a surprise that it was sold to someone who's not going to continue to run it as is.

"It's just been a home for us. We're really going to miss it," said Burner, whose band will play one more show at the bar on Feb. 27.

Gross said he will miss it, too, especially the people.

"I had a nice run, met a lot of people," he said. "It's been a fun ride."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.


Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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