The building that’s located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Main and South 7th Streets in Van Buren has a long history to its credit.
It has been, among other things, the home to Citizens Bank and Palace Drugstore. It’s been home to a dress shop, a pharmacy and a Taekwondo Studio.
And now its been converted into a full-blown sports grill known as The Vault.
And when it makes its debut on May 7 patrons will see flooring and table tops made from the bowling lanes of the old Park Lane Bowling Alley in Fort Smith as well as a lot of sports memorabilia on the walls, scoreboards from an old school in Duncan, Okla., a vintage motorcycle and even barber polls.
It’s the work of owners Lonnie and Mindy London and Guy and Patty Messersmith, who’ve put in approximately 18 months worth of work to bring the grill to fruition.
“It’s a family friendly sports grill where the games are always on,” said Patty.
Yes, the games will be on. In fact, they’ll be on on 13 big screens, four of which grace each side of a scoreboard hanging from the ceiling in the center of the grill with another four combining to form one big screen on the grill’s western wall.
But the dream wasn’t to build a place that offered over a dozen screens for sports fanatics. The dream was simply to provide another reason for people to come to Historic Downtown Van Buren.
“The idea really is to bring people down to Main Street Van Buren, to give them something they don’t have right now,” said Lonnie. “They drive over the river to Fort Smith and do the sports grills and to eat and we’d like them to stay here. There’s a lot of history in Van Buren and there’s retail down here. We just want to get people down to Main Street and keep the interest going and keep the money in Van Buren.”
As The Vault settles into the downtown landscape it’s doing so while trying not to disturb the other restaurants in town, choosing to go with a menu that doesn’t compete with the others on the street.
“We specifically chose menu items that don’t step on toes and so have the others,” said Lonnie. “We’re trying to give people a choice when they come downtown.”
Mindy said the menu includes “appetizers, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, sliders, salads and wings.”
Guy said, “We don’t have the same menus, so when you come to Main Street you’ll have a good choice.”
The Vault will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. It will be closed on Sunday and Mondays.
The four owners are excited about bringing another business to their neighborhood. And it truly is their neighborhood. the two couples own other buildings on Main Street and actually live in those buildings.
“We have all bought in hook, line and sinker,” said Lonnie. “We are very much vested in this little town.”
Others have helped with this latest investment into the neighborhood. Van Buren councilman Alan Swaim donated a large portion of the grill’s baseball memorabilia, the footrails at the base of the wooden bar are former trolley car rails and the bases for the tables were purchased from the widow of artist Ralph Irwin, whose gallery was across the street.
The owners converted the old barber shop that was located at the back of the building into their new kitchen and have added many new amenities.
“We are trying to keep up with technology so we put USB ports all around and hooks underneath the bar for the ladies to hang their purses,” said Guy.
It’s just one of the many modern touches to a building that has seen its share of history.