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New Papa B's Lounge aiming for family market

Monea Johnson and Ryan Eskierka sit in their newly-renovated Papa B's Lounge at 1580 32nd Street. The site had been the Loch Ness Lounge, owned and run by Johnson's father, Bernie Leverty, for 35 years before he passed away. All traces of the former strip club are gone as Johnson and Eskierka strive to make Papa B's a more family-friendly place.

The new Papa B's Lounge doesn't look a thing like its predecessor.

That's what the new owners are aiming for.

Papa B's Lounge is in the former Loch Ness Lounge at 1580 32nd Street, near the St. Croix National Golf Club off Highway 64 near Somerset.

Bernie Leverty owned the Loch Ness Lounge for 35 years before passing away March 2009. It was a well-known strip club for many years, but that is all in the past.

Monea Johnson and Ryan Eskierka are the new owners of the facility. They bought the building in mid-October and got busy reconstructing the interior.

"We put in new windows -- there weren't any in before," Johnson, 31, said. "We also put in a new ceiling and floor before we opened, so that took a couple of days."

Johnson is the only child of former owner Leverty, and had grown up knowing the ins and outs of running a bar. She said that since she already owned the property next door and was half-owner of the lounge, she decided to consolidate the properties by buying the remaining business portion from her uncle.

"We wanted to clean things up a bit, try something different," Eskierka explained. "Her uncle ran it for a while, and now we want to try it as a regular establishment."

The new name comes from Johnson's 4-year-old daughter, Isabella. She called Leverty "Papa Bernie," so it seemed only natural to Johnson to name the new family-friendly enterprise after that nickname.

Papa B's Lounge officially opened for business on Oct. 26, and though the full-service bar is still intact, they are hoping to add other amenities to attract the family audience.

"We're going to have a kitchen with fryers put in," Eskierka said, "so we can offer a small menu of burgers, soups and sandwiches."

Currently, they have a pool table, gaming machines, internet jukebox and dart boards. However, they hope to expand to the outdoors as well.

They plan to install volleyball courts in the spring, and possibly add patio dining.

"We want to make it more open to people -- make it a family-oriented place," Eskierka said.

Although the Loch Ness Lounge stage is gone, they have plans to bring in live music and even an open mike night in the future.

Papa B's Lounge is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight. They said they will consider being open Sundays depending on the demand.

A grand opening is slated for after the holiday season, and they will get the new sign installed within a couple of weeks.

For more information about Papa B's, call 715-247-3855.

Although Johnson said they are still ironing the kinks out of their new business, she is excited about the direction they are taking.

"I just want to bring this back to the community."