They’ve been through this all before, about eight years ago, and now the Thompsons and their staff are bringing their act to North Hudson.
After building a good business when at that time establishing the Houlton sports bar Guv’s Place — you know, the one with the Packer and Viking shaking hands on the sign — they are shifting gears and moving to the busy North Hudson business district, teaming with two quite similar venues to create a local go-to triangle for entertainment and cheer. But the places do have their lively and colorful characters, so it might not be completely equilateral.
Guv’s Place co-owners Dan and Jessica Thompson will take over the current Mudds ‘N Sudds location along Hwy. 35 at 726 Sixth St. N, after closing their location smack dab in the middle of Houlton in July, when their lease became unavailable.
The new Guv’s location is little more than a block away from Kozy Korner pizzaria and bar, and across the street from the Village Inn sports bar and grill, in what forms kind of an L shape.
An official opening, although it will likely roll in slowly, is set for the middle of this week, since the new owners will first have to again go before the Village Board in North Hudson, which meets Tuesday night, to shore up some license details.
“We will definitely not be corporate,” Dan said. “That’s what will distinguish us from those on The Hill.” He also said the new place will be “family based,” and will build on what had been done by the previous owners and staff, and especially their patrons. He and his wife will expand the volleyball play that was a hallmark at Mudds, especially the leagues, and add more to their food service, as well as have more tap beers than at the past Guv’s, with a nod to the proliferating crew of brews that are made locally.
Longterm goals are other activities outside, which could incorporate amenities such as more landscaping, as the current set-up doesn’t have a lot of trees except by the sand volleyball courts, and possibly a patio and likely more outdoor seating.
Guv’s has operated for the last eight years at the intersection of Hwy. 35 and County E. It will add to the Mudd’s walk-in and drive-up gourmet coffee and breakfast-treats service, with expanded morning and night hours.
Since the Thompsons officially bought Mudds in late summer, owners of the three close-together bars have thrown around strategies and ideas for beneficial events for the good of them all — including not only North Hudson, but the several-mile perimeter they each serve.
Many neighborhood enclaves are within easy walking distance, and the people who live their make good use of it, such as some of my neighbors in the locale of Cherry Circle and Fourth Street N.
In downtown Hudson, people saunter around and gravitate between all the bars and grills in a similar way, depending on just what they are seeking. Now there will be similar crossing points in North Hudson.
Such patrons making the rounds and checking out offerings here and there, will benefit from things such as games of cards and poker at various venues, including the new Guv’s, Dan said.
Being busy helps out everyone, and they avoid the pitfalls of drinking and driving. Most of the bar owners in the north part of North Hudson know one another and consider themselves friends, as many for years have patronized each other’s places, Dan said.
Though they all will have the top sports on multiple TVs, the new Guv’s Place will continue to be more brightly lit and intimate than the Village Inn and a bit more spacious than Kozy Korner, but with lower-key live entertainment and a “neighborhood bar fare” menu that doesn’t put on airs but is very tasty.
Its drive-up and walk-in gourmet coffee and breakfast-snacks lineup will be available seven days a week, giving people such as Hwy. 35 commuters an option as well as those who want to come very early to get their day going with a cup of joe, with that opportunity beginning at 6 a.m.
All of this is seen as a way to make North Hudson more of a destination place, like is often the case in its neighboring city just to the south.
Dan noted that North Hudson’s family-driven community spirit is legendary, and a very good match for the new Guv’s Place. He added that there will be a definite change in clientele as the morning coffee drinking crowd changes to afternoon, which changes to evening, as more of a bar atmosphere takes over with an offering of expanded hours of operation. But all clients, past and present and no matter what they sip on, will be welcome in this “work in progress,” he said.
Dan added there also will be synergy with the other bars in North Hudson, a few blocks to the south.
Their quite blue-collar bar had found a loyal customer base in Houlton even before it opened eight years ago, when, as its website said, passers-by stopped by to check what was going on and grab a beer — even while the Thompsons were getting their one-great-big-room space ready.
Kind of like what has been going on in North Hudson with them for the past couple of weeks.
New to Guv’s will be the multiple outdoor volleyball courts. But other old-standby attractions, for those who don’t want to get sand in their sneakers, will be fall-to-spring dart leagues, retaining their popular bean bag tournaments, and other such activities, along with live “one- or two-person bands,” many of which will feature local performers. The emphasis will shift, seasonally, from those main three outdoor activities to indoor attractions such as the music of Ella and Wade, Kyle Kohila and Trandy Blue, tried and true performers with whom Guv’s has long had success.
Look for some of those kind of tunes during the grand opening, planned for Halloween weekend, just like when the old Guv’s opened almost a decade ago. It is during this time that Jessica shows her true colors with love of scary decore, especially killer clowns. But that’s not the only holiday and special event they will play up, with Jessica going over the top to do things such as hang decorations from the ceiling.
There will be more TVs then before inside, and sports of all sorts, Dan said, adding that his wife is a huge Minnesota Wild fan, so of course there will be ticket giveaways to patrons who follow the puck. Possibly adding to the diversity is that Jessica is a notoriously big Motley Crew fan, although don’t expect the new Guv’s to rock out to that degree — except maybe for what’s on occasion played on the jukebox, which has a song selection noted for its diversity and pairing of like-styled hits.
Jessica will be Guv’s main bartender and has said that as a regular customer, she’d talked with previous owner Marc Zappa — who will always be welcome — about an arrangement such as the new one.
Many of the Guv’s staffers will remain, as well as those who were longtime stalwarts at Mudds N Sudds. Jo Ellen Steele quipped with her sly trademark candor that she’s not going to opt for an early retirement, rather stay and be a big part of the fun.
Members of the Thompson family were six-year North Hudson residents before moving to the town of St. Joseph in 2002, and Dan as the Guv even served in local government, on the St. Joseph Town Board.
As we talked in mid-September at Mudds, patrons checked out the older art prints that were no longer going to be part of the decore and were being sold, such as a Marilyn Monroe print for $10, and a map of Hudson-North Hudson for a bit more. An oversize print of Frank Zappa was still on the wall in the bathroom.
For information, check the Guv’s Place Facebook page, and its soon to be updated website: www.guvsplace.com.