JOHNSON CREEK -- It's a familiar sight all along I-94 in Johnson Creek. The Gobbler has been shuttered for years but on Thursday night, December 10th after months of renovation, it reopened. FOX6 News got a sneak peek at the venue's first performers.
Inside Dominic Gischia's band room at Johnson Creek High School, kids prepared for their annual Christmas concert.
Adam Becker and Avery Hombsch have been performing in band since the fifth grade. That's seven years of concerts in a loud gym. While the underclassmen have a new school and auditorium to look forward to next year, as seniors, Becker and Hombsch didn't think they'd get the chance at a new stage.
"I was super excited. It's cool to have a change. Especially because we won't be in the new school next year, so to get to play somewhere new before that opens and having a grand opening for our senior year is exciting," said Hombsch.
The band was set to perform Thursday at "The Gobbler" -- a Johnson Creek landmark that's been closed down for nearly 20 years.
"My mom used to waitress there. She was a cocktail waitress way back when, so she's always talked about it and how cool it was," said Hombsch.
"When my dad was there as a busboy, when he was in high school, everybody came to eat there," said Becker.
One of those people who used to eat there in the 60s and 70s is new owner Dan Manesis.
"I would bring girls here for dinner. Back then you made $1.40 an hour, and steak was $16.95 and the place packed 'em in every night," said Manesis.
Manesis describes The Gobbler in the old days as "a gangster's supper club." He's trying to make it a more family-friendly music venue -- but he's kept a lot original touches, like the rotating bar and the pink and the purple.
"I've tried to save as much as I could as far as the inner shell: the bar, the chairs -- that will add to the folks that used to be here, to young people who only know it as The Gobbler that used to be in business. When they come in, it's going to be a state-of-the-art music facility," said Manesis.
While a new sound system and stadium-style seating are nice, Manesis wants the new Gobbler to be part of the community. That's why he extended the invitation to the high school band.
"I thought it would be a nice thing to give the kids an opportunity to perform at a state-of-the-art facility. And their folks can relive it when they see their kids playing," said Manesis.