New owners excited about future of Rustlers
Jamie Smith came very close to purchasing JJ’s Bar and Grill six months ago, but the timing wasn’t right.
When it came on the market again so quickly, Smith wasn’t going to let this pass.
“I talked to (co-owner) Mark (Koester) and he ran the numbers to see if it was feasible and it was,” Smith said.
That led to July 14, when Smith and Koester purchased JJ’s and renamed it Rustlers Bar and Grill, and opened it to the public, located at 1055 Davis Street in Hammond. The bar held a soft opening but as of July 24, started serving a full menu.
“I liked JJ’s,” Smith said. “They ran a good show.”
Yet, for all his excitement about Rustlers, Smith said he and Koester were apprehensive when they went in front of the Hammond Village Board July 13 as they were seeking board approval for their alcohol license.
“We were nervous because we weren’t sure if they wanted a bar anymore,” Smith said.
Those fears were put to rest quickly as the board supported the pair’s plans and the questions they had, the pair were aware of and were promising to fix.
Smith, who is from Somerset, was a business consultant for AT&T the last eight years.
He explained owning a bar has always been one of his goals in life.
“Now is the time,” he said. “Owning a bar isn’t an easy gig to do. You have to be married to a bar.”
Smith and wife Molly, who will also work at Rustlers, are the parents of three children, between the ages of 16 and 21.
Smith and Koester met 10 years ago while the pair and their respective wives were going through an adoption agency in Minnesota.
“We hit it off,” Smith said, and the pair started the goal of wanting to own a small-town bar. Smith will be more of the “public face” of Rustlers, while Koester will handle the bar’s finances.
“We want to make this a place where you can bring your family to,” Smith continued, emphasizing the family dining they have planned. “We want people to come as a guest, but leave as a friend.”
Smith said bands will perform throughout the summer Friday and Saturday nights along with Karoake night, held Thursdays.
Smith also touched on the future plans he has for Rustlers, which also includes the empty lot. In the back, he would like to expand the deck, and eliminate the horseshoe pit. He would also like to add a volleyball court, an outdoor dining section and expand a parking lot.
For additional information, visit rustlersbarandgrill.com.