The Aggieville district has been a popular destination for K-State students for over a century, beginning in the 1890s when the campus bookstore set up shop on the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Moro Street. Small businesses followed suit, and over the years, the ‘Ville grew into what we know today: six blocks of bars, restaurants and shops geared primarily towards the K-State student body.
“The district in general has always been, is currently and will continue to be market-driven,” said Evan Tuttle, director of the Aggieville Business Association. “Where people are willing to spend their money is what will last, what will open and what will thrive.”
At the moment, the market is driven by the bar industry. In the past few months a new bar has opened, two have announced plans to expand and a fourth expects to be up and running before December.
Over the summer, Wabash Bar and Grill opened for business at 1116 Moro. The establishment features a bar and dining area on the ground floor and an open-air rooftop patio, also equipped with a bar.
Another new venue in Aggieville’s near future is Tanner’s Bar and Grill, a sports bar that originated in Atchison, Kan. before expanding to become one of the best known eateries in the Kansas City area. When Tanner’s moves into the vacant building left by Pat’s Blue Rib’n BBQ, the franchise will have 12 locations in four states.
“We’ve recognized Aggieville as an iconic spot among college towns, and for us to be in the mix really excited us a lot,” said Matt Brentano, manager and part-owner of Tanner’s and a graduate of K-State. “We were actually within a day of moving to Aggieville three years ago before someone snuck in and beat us to the spot.”
Incidentally, Brentano said that the Tanner’s location in the Waldo district of Kansas City is the area’s official watch party location for K-State football games.
“We really try hard to get in good with the K-State crowd,” he said.
Brentano said the business model of the Aggieville location will be similar to the one employed at their other locations, focusing on good food and drinks and a sports atmosphere. However, he said he hopes Tanner’s will be a popular late-night destination as well.
“There’s no reason you can’t be both a sports bar and a happening place at night,” Brentano said.
In addition to the two brand-new bars, another pair are in the process of expanding. Johnny Kaw’s will be moving in to the former location of Ballard’s Sporting Goods, which closed its doors this summer after more than 60 years in business. Eighteen63 will also grow its operation after buying out the Planet Sub location that previously inhabited the building next door.
Richard Galli, owner of Eighteen63, said the bar has been looking to expand since first buying their current location. The plans, however, were put on hold last year after an incident in which a fire sprinkler in the apartments above was damaged and dumped thousands of gallons of water into the bar. Extensive damage forced Galli to close his doors for months during repairs.
“That really set us back but, for the most part, we’re back on our feet now,” Galli said.
Galli said he plans to open the second location Wednesday through Saturday nights and would focus more on nightlife than on food.
“It’s not really going to have the dinner feel that we have over here, it’s going to be more of a party atmosphere,” he said. “I don’t really know what the best way to put this is, but, I guess it’s just going to be nuts.”
Galli said he hopes to debut the new addition within a few weeks, with a tentative opening as soon as this weekend.
Another new name in Aggieville this year is Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, which is moving in to the building previously occupied by Hibachi Hut, which will relocate to downtown Manhattan under new ownership. Fuzzy’s started out in 2003 in Fort Worth, Kan. before expanding into 60 locations across 11 states, primarily in college towns, including Lawrence.