Locals has been owned by brothers Jarrad and Jay Smith since 2016. Before that it was owned by Jessica Leach. Located at 6Street05-611 Douglas Street, the bar, restaurant, and entertainment venue take up three buildings on the square changing the face of history in Pawnee. Locals the bar area is in the former iconic Nelson’s drug store which was topped by the Opera House. On the other end is the new restaurant that was built after a fire in Locals former restaurant. “In May of 2017, the restaurant caught fire, but it was a blessing in disguise. We bought the deli from Tim Glenn, then Nick Campo sold us the Karate club and we remodeled it. There is so much history there. Ralph Barry had his automotive shop there, the building was a machine shop, a Chevy Motor Sales, and a florist shop,” Jarrad Smith shared.
While the look has changed, the owners have done a great job keeping the flavor of Pawnee in the buildings and the customers have taken what Locals has to offer. “We wanted to give Pawnee something,” Jarrad said. “I’m from Springfield, but my brother lives in Pawnee. I used to own Crows Mill Pub,” he said and when this came up for sale the brothers knew this was what they were looking for.
The music is a great new addition to Locals and something that Jarrad has really enjoyed adding. “When I owned Crows Mill, I had live music. When I had open space (after buying the deli) Edge to Edge came in and I told them what I wanted.”
He planned an amphitheater arrangement with an upper deck and the brothers have been adding on ever since! While the old opera house used to be the big entertainment area Jarrad said, “We took what was upstairs and brought it downstairs.”
Music acts were planned most of the summer. “It started in part when we heard some fun band names like the band Peanut and Shells.” Jarrad said.
At Locals they have also been featuring local entertainment as well those from nearby towns. With a relaxing vibe, good food and entertainment to boot Jarrad added, “We have a lot of great people here. We notice too that friends are staying later in the evening as well.”
The upstairs space though has been the sight of many events and is still open for party rentals as well. Jarrad added that the upstairs area can hold 200 people. The downstairs area though worked out well during COVID-19, it has allowed customers to space out and sit and enjoy fresh air outdoor dining and entertainment. Indoor dining is also available in the restaurant as well. “We were busy every evening during the summer with the open dining area,” Jarrad added.
The restaurant is a wonderful example of DYI with handmade tables and lights and the dining room is a Pawnee history trove as well. The Smith brothers did a major study of Pawnee history and retrieved pictures and kept much original in the dining area. The exposed brick remains in the dining room and Jarrad said, “When we took a wall down, we saw the Exide Batteries sign was there.”
They enhanced the sign and left it. “The wood for the tables came out of the deli area,” Jarrad added sharing a respect for the history that went before.
Favorite items at the Locals restaurant include pizza from the brick oven, tacos, and fish curls! Jarrad said that they hope to add pizza for lunch, and broasted- chicken eventually. With capacity for 100 with COVID, that still leaves room for 50 in the dining room so that makes for a decent crowd. The restaurant is open for lunch from 11-2 Monday – Friday and for dinner from 4:30 to 8 Monday – Thursday and from 4:30 to 9 on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday.
Locals is just that, part of the local community. They host local events and plan events around the holidays and more. They are working with other entities in town to combine entertainment and offer great music and more for the community. To find out what is going on, and when events are happening, check out the Locals Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/localspawnee/l. They have a gaming room as well.