BLOOMINGTON — "Indianapolis' best sports bar" is coming to the Twin Cities.
Stacked Pickle, an Indiana restaurant chain that received that honor from "The Indy A-List" in 2017, could open a Bloomington-Normal location as soon as this year, owner and CEO Gary Brackett told The Pantagraph.
"What we really pride ourselves on is fresh food. Our proteins are never frozen, we're affordable and we have a diverse menu," said Brackett, a former Super Bowl champion linebacker with the Indianapolis Colts. "We're really looking forward to providing a great service and restaurant people there can support."
While the company hasn't yet picked a site for its Bloomington-Normal location — or determined whether it will be a franchise or corporate operation — Brackett said it's expected to be less than 5,000 square feet and employ between 35 and 45 workers, including more than half full-time.
"We have a smaller footprint where, it's almost clichéd to say, you want people to feel like 'Cheers,' where everybody knows your name," said Brackett, before briefly singing from the sitcom's theme song.
"Another thing that really sets us apart is we try to go into a neighborhood and make an immediate impact," including partnering with local chambers of commerce and athletic teams, he added.
Stacked Pickle's menu includes burgers, wings, salads, seafood, wraps, flatbreads and desserts. The chain also serves beer, liquor and mixed drinks.
Bloomington-Normal is part of a wave of expansion for Stacked Pickle, which started in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel and now has nine Indiana locations. Houston and Orlando franchises also are on tap, and other destinations include Chicago suburbs of Elk Grove Village, as reported by the Daily Herald, and Lansing.
"Obviously I would love (the opening date) to be 2019. ... We're still early enough in the year to identify a location and get it open," said Brackett of Bloomington-Normal. "Definitely it will be over the next 12 to 18 months."
Last month, a new ownership group confirmed it will reopen the former Swingers Grille in Normal as a sports bar at the beginning of March. Other local sports bars include Buffalo Wild Wings, Elroy's, Gill Street Sports Bar and Restaurant, Hooters, Legends, Mugsy's and Pub II.