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Sussex Place is Back with New Management – Again

Is it Dive Bar, Benchwarmers or Sussex Place? The volleyball bar is back to its original name with a focus on shaking its rough past.

After changing its name to and then , Sussex Place has pulled its old sign from storage after firing management in an attempt to get back to its roots.

According to bar owner Ronald Stortz, former business manager Sue Powers has been fired, and a new manager, Nickolas Grass, has been hired on to run the show. Grass says it’s all about starting fresh after earning a poor reputation with police, a rebranding effort the bar has attempted to pull multiple times before.

“Well, I hated the name Benchwarmers,” Grass said. “Ron is back in charge, and I’m helping him turn this place back around. We’re starting with a clean slate.”

However, the Finance and Personnel Committee says they need more proof. Grass sat in front of the Village Board Tuesday night requesting his name be on the bar’s liquor license, but the move was denied because “a young woman was apparently injured” at the bar after .

Police activity at the bar is far from abnormal, so these most recent events made Sussex officials wary.

"They think that everything bad that happened here is because of me.”

While police are still investigating the incident, committee chairperson Bob Zarzynski recommended Grass manage the bar for a while so the village knows he can handle it.

“The Finance Committee talked with Mr. Grass with this at length, and our recommendation and direction was to deny the license at this time,” Zarzynski said. “We’re concerned about the operations at Sussex Place when Mr. Grass was there, so we’re going to let him work there and gain a track record.”

And this isn’t the first time this exact situation regarding management leading to potential ownership has been planned for the bar.

In , former manager Sue Powers joined Stortz in front of the Finance and Personnel Committee, saying they were partnering up until Powers obtained enough money to purchase the property, and enough reputation as a solid business manager to get her own operator’s license.

However, that deal fell through when Sussex police began frequenting the bar, another time. She attempted changing the bar’s name to Benchwarmers to clean the slate once again, but it didn’t work.

According to Grass, that deal is over, and he’s next in line to purchase the property from Stortz, the 69-year-old owner eager to sell. Grass just needs to build the reputation with Sussex officials.

“Sue Powers was out about two months ago,” Grass said. “She didn’t pay any of her bills… I’ll apply with the village again soon. They think that everything bad that happened here is because of me.”

The original sign for Sussex Place is back up, and Grass is currently the new manager. 

Julie Hill July 26, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Actually....it was called the Jolly Bar originally.
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Hah! How long ago was that? The village always refers to it as the Sussex Place bar, so I just assumed it was named that for at least 5-10 years.
Mike B July 27, 2012 at 12:18 PM
It's been Sussex Place for at least 13 years. That was the first time I was there to play some v-ball. No idea what it might have been before that.
Bill K. July 27, 2012 at 12:36 PM
The original Sussex Place when it was in downtown Sussex next to Piggly Wiggly used to be called the Jolly Bar until around 1980 then it became Sussex Place.
Andy Ambrosius (Editor) July 27, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Right - because when you Google Map the bar's location, I think it's still next to the Pig. They never updated it.

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