The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 16, 2013

Krohn: Bar gets new look, downtown cafe-bakery opens

MANKATO — Tom and Amanda Doerr hope everyone who has avoided their bar in the past will stop in to the reopened, renamed Chopps and see what it looks like now.

The bad rap against the bar formerly known as Chopper’s was, admits Tom, partly of his own making.

“We had that stigma of being a biker bar. We were never trying to be a biker bar, it was just sort of a gimmick, but it bit us in the butt.”

After closing for a month and doing a top-to-bottom renovation, the couple reopened Chopps Friday night. “Everything’s different, a new look, new theme. We want to broaden our customer base,” Tom said.

The building, at 521 South Front St., has a long history as a bar. It operated as the Square Deal for decades, opening in the early 1950s.

Prior to that it was home to Hugo W. Lichtenberg Beverages.

In the ’90s, John Pluto bought the business from the Lyons family and changed the name to Pluto’s. 

Doerr and two partners bought it in 2001 and changed the name to Chopper’s.

Doerr bought out his partners recently and decided to start fresh. “I’ve grown a lot since I bought it. I’ve added some kids and got older,” said the 39-year-old. The couple has three children.  

They had hoped to go back to the Square Deal name, but Lyons family members weren’t on board with the idea, Tom said. “The name was available with the secretary of state and everything, but my moral compass told me I shouldn’t do it if the family wasn’t comfortable with it.”  

Amanda said they worked with the Regional Center for Entrepreneurial Facilitation in Mankato as they redesigned their bar and business model.

“The RCEF was great. They really were helpful in getting us more focused, on seeing things from a different perspective,” Amanda said.

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