On May 1, when Kelsey Graves got the keys to what would become 1867, she and four friends went in to begin the process of peeling off three layers of black epoxy from what in many of the place’s past iterations was a borderline adhesive dance floor.
“Bleached everything,” Graves said of the downtown pub. “We got there at noon, and we were there until midnight. We walked in the next day and it didn’t look like we did anything.”
Above the beer cooler, they discovered a few Woody’s Pub hats. In the back, there was a bin of clothes they guessed had been piled up during the bar’s previous hurrah, as South Campus. Graves donated it to the People’s City Mission.
In many of its previous lives, the venue that wraps around the Jimmy John's at 14th and O has been a college student-targeting club. As 1867, Graves, the owner, is looking to create more of a neighborhood bar atmosphere inside, with almost as many events, game and theme nights on tap as there are Nebraska-brewed beers. And she guessed 98 percent of the beer inventory is of the local craft variety. 1867, named in honor of Nebraska's statehood, has a rustic look to it thanks to some Edison bulbs hanging throughout the bar and a bar top adorned with long-expired Cornhusker State license plates.
“We still have a lot to do, believe it or not,” she said.
Graves said this week’s goal was to install scaffolding that could suspend some more intricate stage lighting in 1867’s performance space, which is divided from the bar by a door she bought from Knickerbockers, where she and her boyfriend, Matty Sanders, first met. She also bought all of Knickerbocker’s tables and shot glasses soon after Anderson and the rest of The JV Allstars reformed to play KB’s swan song show last year.
Along with supplying 1867 with some nostalgic items from the recently closed Knickerbockers, Graves has found support from staff and owners at Duffy's Tavern, the Bourbon Theatre, the Zoo Bar, Bodega's Alley and the rest of the downtown Lincoln venues. She offers up flyer space for them and they've done the same as she books more shows at 1867.
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“This is what I love about the downtown scene -- everybody is so friendly,” she said. “The best way to make this work is work together.”
This weekend, the venue space will be used as the VIP lounge for Lincoln Calling performers. And more and more, Graves is booking local bands and comics, as well as touring performers like next Wednesday’s comedy headliner, Derek Sheen. Between shows, you’re liable to find a themed night or afternoon on the calendar.
“Events are my thing, though,” she said. “When I’m drinking with friends, I want to play games.”
One of her proudest moment thus far, judging by her reaction, is the end result of event she hosts on the first Sunday of every month called Paws and Draws. It’s a get-together featuring a proliferation of dog treats, a pint special that benefited the Capital Humane Society and a pitbull-boxer mix named Chazz.
“The cutest,” said Graves, whose own rescue lab, Dolly Parton, can often be found out lounging by the giant Jenga set in the smoking area.
Along with what’s on tap, an HD television behind the bar flashes pictures of dogs up for adoption. During a recent Paws and Draws, Chazz came over from the shelter. She’s not sure if it was one of her patrons who did it, but Chazz was adopted soon after, which she described as “awesome” as she scrolled through a series of Chazz photos still on her phone.
To see what's coming up at 1867 Bar, go to facebook.com/1867Bar.