Outlaw Saloon owners Lisa and John Mueller and manager Mindy Bendheim (right) hope you’re ready for some football. (Photo: Vane)
Formerly a “run down party room” for John’s Pizza Works, the Outlaw Saloon has come a long way in the two years since it opened. Owner John Mueller built the bar with buddies and contractors Paul Sartan and Mike Larry, “busting the thing out in a matter of 3 months.” The décor recalls the inside of a mine, with heavy peeled log beams, and tables made from log cutoffs.
A mishmash of collectibles — a plaque of horseshoeing equipment, a pair of wooden skis and a Bighorn sheep’s head — were donated by the family of Mueller’s close friend, Bruce Capitain after he passed away, and add an old-timey spice to the walls. Staff decorated the Bighorn sheep’s head for the holidays.
“One of the biggest compliments we get from people is the feeling you get here,” Mueller said. “You get the feeling you’re in the mountains.” The bar also has a sense of humor, with plaques purchased from Virginia City offering helpful words of wisdom such as, “No matter how good she looks, some other guy is sick and tired of her sh*t.”
Then there are the “boob tables,” two split log tables with the tracings of breasts, some belonging to people you might know in town, along their edges.
The combination of rustic and kitsch, woodsy and irreverent, draws a wide range of clientele to the Outlaw: locals, families and even international visitors. One thing Mueller hopes will be an even greater draw are the upcoming football season specials, including rib eye steak breakfast burritos, Bloody Mary and Mimosas, and 2-for-1 well drinks during games.
The bar has been a popular gathering spot for football in years past, especially after John added one new 65-inch HD screen TV to the bar for a total of six HD TVs. “If you don’t get here early enough, you don’t get a seat,” Mueller warned.
Of Manager Mindy Bendheim and the other bartenders and cocktail servers, Mueller said, “We have a great group of employees here,” he said. “You have to have fun, energetic people that customers enjoy being around.”
The bar has transformed what used to be a rough-and-tumble establishment into a local and family-friendly environment. Mueller recalled of thye old times (half-kidding?). “I used to carry a gun. I used to call 911, and they’d be like, ‘You again?’”
These days, the community atmosphere reigns. As Mueller put it, “No one wants to go to a place where they don’t know anyone. Coming into this bar, odds are you’ll probably know someone.”
Though the interior has remained largely the same since the bar first opened, the drinks and specials are always evolving “to make locals happy,” Mueller said. Locals particularly enjoy the bar’s Jager shots: “We sell more Jager than anywhere else,” John said. “We pour big shots.” Locals also flock to the “Drink ‘Til They’re Cute” happy hour from 4-7 p.m., which sports $2 Rolling Rock, $3.50 well drinks, $4.50 Jager shots and $6.25 two-topping personal pizzas.
“In this economy people are looking for the biggest beer, the strongest cocktail, the best pizza they can get for their money,” Mueller said. “Our main challenge is to make sure prices are competitive and drinks are strong.”
Given the popularity of the bar, Mueller thinks he must be doing something right. “Bars are customized by the clientele,” he concluded. “If you’re smart enough to listen to customers, I think you can do pretty well in this business.”
Football specials kick into effect with the first game of the season, New Orleans versus Green Bay, Sept. 8, at 5:30 p.m. Enjoy responsibly … Mueller likes his customers to be regular ones.