Corner Bar reconstruction begins
Rebuild includes upgraded interior, improved workflow between kitchen and dining room.
Rockford lost an iconic establishment when a fire all but destroyed the Corner Bar last August, but Orion Construction was quick to shore up the debris and preserve what it could.
With the debris cleared, the construction crew went to work quickly last week to lay the steel for the structure of the new building, which, as a nod to the owners, was painted in Rockford Public Schools’ black and orange with the phrase “Go Rams” proudly facing Main Street.
“(The owners) were excited to see the Rockford black and orange,” said Brad Walsh, Orion project manager.
Steel construction will continue through this week, after which the crew will start the electrical and plumbing work. Walsh also said concrete pouring will begin soon.
“Now that it’s starting to look like an actual building, (the owners) are really excited,” Walsh said.
The new Corner Bar, 31 N. Main St., will cover 10,000 square feet and have an upgraded interior and improved workflow between the kitchen and dining room.
The building also will feature second-floor event space and a patio for outdoor seating.
Grand Rapids-based Henrickson Architecture provided exterior architecture and currently is in the beginning stages of the interior design.
The exterior will be almost completely rebuilt, minus the northeast corner and east-facing façade, which Orion was able to save. The walls and a portion of the bar’s hot dog wall of fame will be restored to commemorate the historic building.
“We were lucky enough to be able to salvage a few components, including the front façade. It would have been easier to demolish the entire building and start new, but it was important to us to do everything we could to preserve the old walls,” co-owner Jeff Wolfe said. “We want the community to have something to remember their old memories and time spent at the Corner growing up.”
Co-owner Sarah Wolfe said she is looking forward to making new memories and sees the rebuild as the “next chapter” in the Corner Bar story.
“Unfortunately, we realize that we are not going to be able to completely recreate the look and feel of a 100-year-old building, but it is not really about the bricks and walls,” she said. “The heart and soul of the Corner is the community, and we are excited for the future.”
Walsh said he anticipates the Corner Bar to re-open in early August if construction goes smoothly.
The original Corner Bar building was built in 1873 and was the oldest brick building in Rockford. It operated as a pool hall from the 1930s until Donald Berg purchased it in 1965.
The hot dog wall of fame was created in 1968 and drew competitors from all over the U.S. Tim Janus from New York City downed 43.5 chili dogs in 2006 and currently holds the record.