City Center Stories

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introducing THE BENCH

Introducing The Bench – the newest restaurant and bar to open Downtown, and the second Downtown eatery for Jenny Schnakenberg and Tyler Sherman, owners of the popular Odyssey Gastropub.

Although neither Jenny nor Tyler aspired to be restaurateurs growing up, once they were in the industry they each knew it was a fit. Tyler spent about a decade in hospitality at hotels before opening Odyssey, but says restaurants “have always been part of my history. Including, but not limited to, flipping burgers at McDonald’s in high school.” Because they each had hands-on experience, they thought they could tend bar, serve tables and assume management roles when they opened Odyssey. They quickly learned that wouldn’t work.  After learning a lot, establishing a successful business model and earning a solid reputation, the pair embarked on a new project: The Bench.

The Space

Outside, the formerly unassuming brick building at 424 S. Nevada Avenue has undergone a massive transformation. The 1970’s brown brick is gone, and the owners say they’ve received nothing but compliments on the new doors, paint color and signage. The biggest impact comes with a glass garage door and elevated patio, changing the entire curb appeal.

Inside you’ll find sports-themed food and drinks, 11 TVs and vintage sporting goods and memorabilia décor. “We both grew up athletes and are now living in an area that has such incredible sports and outdoor activities …We wanted to embrace the idea of a sports themed restaurant that doesn’t resemble one of the chains or dives that typically comes to mind when you think of a sports bar.” One thing sure to set The Bench apart is a “bib wall” (no, not the infant kind) where you can bring in a race bib to add to the wall.

The vibe

It started as simple signage, but Eat. Drink. Cheer. has become a sort of motto. “It hopefully represents [The Bench] as a place to meet up, have something great to eat, enjoy your favorite beverage and root for your team.” The owners expect to see some of the same crowd at The Bench that they’ve come to know at Odyssey. “We like the idea of being able to cross market between our sister restaurants and generate exposure for both. It really helps not being unknown in town,” said Tyler, then added, “But it’s a very different kind of place. I don’t think we’ll see as many blind dates at The Bench as we do at Odyssey.”

A sense of community

The path to The Bench had its fair share of bumps along the way, including things typical with renovating an older building. Tyler said, “It’s safe to say that nothing has gone the way we expected it to. I read somewhere once that when story writing, its fine to use coincidence to get your hero into trouble, but not to get them out of trouble. I feel like we’ve been written into a very long story where someone embraced that idea a little too much. We’ll never forget any of this. Ever.” But their prior success was built on community, and that has carried them through the ups and downs of opening The Bench.

“We’re very thankful for all the support the community has shown us which has allowed us to grow and start this next adventure. We’re just the idea people and wouldn’t have amounted to much if it wasn’t for our amazing staff and the fabulous people who support us.”  They, too, give that support right back to their staff, “We always tell our managers, ‘We live 5 minutes from here. If you get in the weeds, call us.’”

Looking to the not-too-distant future

“We’re excited about the direction Downtown is taking and are grateful to be part of it,” say Jenny and Tyler. The Bench is just down from Blue Dot Place, which opened as the first new-build apartments Downtown since the 1960’s just two years ago. A few blocks north, Eco Apartments will open this summer. Tyler says, “Since the day I moved here the number one thing I thought Downtown was missing was residences. Now that there are so many projects planned and in the works, Downtown is primed to be the vibrant heart of the city that it should be.” And rest assured The Bench will be a warm and welcoming place for all.

The Bench
424 S. Nevada Avenue
(719) 375-0930


 


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