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Area bars under new ownership

BEMIDJI - Brigid's Cross Irish Pub and the Becida Bar and Grill may be under new ownership, but longtime customers at both will be pleased that their traditions will remain.

While Brigid's and Becida have officially changed ownership, Tutto Bene is currently in the process of being sold, but the deal has not been finalized.

Brigid's Cross, an Irish themed bar located in the heart of downtown Bemidji, officially changed ownership last Friday when long time local musician Kristi Miller took ownership.

"Something stood out about Brigid's," Miller said. "I was trying to put my finger on what it is and I think it is just a really well-established bar and restaurant. I really like that about it."

Miller said being a musician in the area for so long has allowed her to work in the bars and she decided it was something she could do long term. The parents of her husband, Jim, owned a marine bar and restaurant so she has learned the business a bit that way, as well as working as a waitress earlier in life.

Miller said she likes the Irish theme that Brigid's has and she plans to continue running in that way, keeping customer favorites like the Fish and Chips on the menu, while expanding the menu in other ways.

Miller said there is a lot that goes into buying a bar and restaurant. She had to get a liquor license through the City Council and insurance. Financial help was available through the Small Business Administration, Security Bank and her own funds. The process took a little longer than she expected but she is excited to finally have the purchase be official.

"Having never done this before; I'm not sure if purchases are supposed to happen within a month or not, but this one certainly took some time," Miller said.

Becida Bar and Grill

The Becida Bar and Grill was bought by Pam Schlee-Johnson and her husband, Scott Johnson, on May 1.

The bar had been closed temporarily when a buyer fell through, leaving the bar without a liquor license.

The bar has been in the Schlee family for 58 years, owned first by Pam's grandmother and then passed through the family. She and her husband heard the bar was for sale and decided to move back to Becida, Schlee-Johnson's hometown.

"I have never been a waitress and I have never been a bartender," Pam Schlee-Johnson said. "It is a completely new adventure for me but it has been in the family and I have a lot of family working with me, helping me out."

Schlee-Johnson will be making the transition from being a financial advisor to managing the bar, while her husband will be more of a silent partner in the bar, maintaining his work as an insurance broker.

Schlee-Johnson said there are no plans for any major changes to the bar right away other than updating the buildings and getting the softball fields, volleyball courts and horseshoe pits up and running.

The menu will be updated to include Mexican food on Tuesday, wings on Wednesday and pasta on Thursday; while the Friday and Saturday specials will remain the same with rib-eye, prime rib, ribs and walleye specials.

The restaurant is sticking to its Tuesday through Sunday schedule for now, but Schlee-Johnson said the bar could open seven days a week. A formal grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 4, with music, raffles and possibly a pig roast.