By April Parks and Tanner Brust
Special to The Free Press
---- — For 20 years near the campus of Minnesota State University, there was one bar that was a consistent draw for college students: Boomtown.
A short walk from campus, students could forget all about their stressful day at school with some inexpensive drinks and good times.
So when MSU senior and Boomtown loyalist Abby Hanson saw the bar had ended its run (officially March 29) she thought it had to be some kind of April Fool's joke. She's one of the many students lately who have had to stop and take a second look on their way to school at the new sign that reads “Bradley's” out front.
“I was surprised,” Hanson said. “Peers knew that it was changing, but I had no clue.”
Boomtown was opened in August 1994 by Jon Mueller, who named it after the 1986 hit song “Welcome to the Boomtown,” by David & David. The place quickly became a popular gathering spot for students.
After cheering at the Maverick football games, Hanson and her friends would often go to the bar.
“Homecoming 2013 the drinks were cheap, the DJ was playing, and the girls and I won free tanks and T-shirts,” said Hanson. “It’s my favorite memory of the place.”
Boomtown even drew in Vikings players from Training Camp over the years, which was one of MSU senior Jack Lee’s favorite times of the year.
“Yeah, it is nuts around Vikings Training Camp,” he said.
The décor of Boomtown didn't change much over the years. Mueller designed Boomtown as a sports bar with Vikings and MSU apparel, and it stayed that way after he sold it to Dan Guimont seven years ago. (Mueller now owns the neighboring Jonny B's.)
Guimont sold Boomtown to Matt Pittelkow, who only kept the business nine months. Brad Depuydt said he saw his friend Pittelkow struggling to keep the business afloat and saw an opportunity at hand.
Depuydt, an MSU alum, started coming into Boomtown frequently just to take notes on the business. He asked himself how he could get customers into the door. Eventually, Depuydt and Pittelkow worked out a deal, and recently Depuydt's mother, Kathy Depuydt, bought Boomtown from Pittelkow. Brad and Kathy Depuydt are partners running the business.
The Depuydts decided to change the name of the very bar Brad Depuydt hung out at in college. They thought Boomtown had run its course, and it was time for some changes.
Instead of a sports bar theme, the Depuydts are moving toward a “neighborhood bar,” but still want to attract college students. That's why they are keeping the same events Boomtown offered on Wednesdays and Thursdays: trivia and karaoke. They also are bringing in live bands.
On the menu, there are only minor changes, including salads and a few more appetizers, including cheese curds and reuben balls. For the first time in years, the restaurant is also be open for lunch beginning at 11 a.m.
“It will be a different place, but I don’t want to change it too much,” said Brad Depuydt.
Mueller views the evolution of Boomtown through a business perspective as he watches next door
the changes being done to what he started 20 years ago.
“I think it was time, and (it was) a smart decision,” said Mueller. “Every era has an end.”