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New look coming for Old No. 1

A poster displayed in the back entry to the Old No. 1 Bar and Grill in Morris shows the new floor plan for the restaurant. 1 / 2
During the month of January, contractors will be renovating the upstairs restaurant at the Old No. 1 to create a more family-friendly atmosphere for diners. 2 / 2

MORRIS, Minn. --The Old No.1 Bar and Grill in Morris is going to look like new after a month-long renovation of the restaurant’s main dining room.

Donny Wohlers and his wife, Amy Doll-Wohlers, have owned the Old No. 1 since 1997 when they bought the building from the VFW. During that time, they’ve renovated most of the spaces in the building, except the restaurant’s upper dining room.

“One of the things that I’ve always done is gotten by with what I had to work with upstairs,” said Wohlers. “I thought it was a good time to start over from the ground and redo it and try to make an atmosphere that people want to come to – there will be nothing on the main floor that was the same.”

This month, the restaurant is going through a complete remodel to create a more family-friendly atmosphere for diners while maintaining the bar space for other patrons.

To help separate the spaces, the lunch buffet line is moving to the center of the main floor to create a divider between the restaurant and the bar. The pool tables by the back door will be removed, replaced by more booths and tables. There will be a bigger television in the bar area, but fewer TVs on the restaurant side.

In total, the restaurant will be adding about 20 more seats, including a 12 person meeting room that will be available for use free of charge.

The restaurant design is full of local details. Some of the walls are being covered with wood recycled from an old bar. Other spaces have some corrugated steel sourced locally. The plans include some built-in booths with roofs over the top for atmosphere.

“It’s going to be a unique look,” said Wohlers.

The renovation project started promptly on Jan. 1. Wohlers closed the restaurant for a day to move the booths, furniture and bar equipment, then re-opened on the restaurant’s Southside reception hall on Jan. 2. The restaurant will remain open throughout construction, serving customers in the Southside.

If all goes as planned, the restaurant will re-open on the top floor on Feb. 1.

Wohlers said he hopes renovating the restaurant will provide another nice place in town to eat and help give back to the community.

“Morris is a nice town to raise families, I just wanted to give back to the town – this is going to be a nice place when it’s done,” said Wohlers.