Destroyed by fire, Schooly’s Bar promises changes

Jun. 22, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Like a phoenix, Schooly’s Bar and Billiards rose from the ashes of its former self with the same name but a new look.

Management is trying to institute another change too: the image and reputation of the bar.

The downtown Jonesboro establishment, which burned to the ground about two years ago in a fire of undetermined cause, reopened in April but has been keeping a low profile before its official grand opening June 29, owner Don Schoolcraft said. In addition to the physical changes — it’s bigger now at 5,000 square feet and has brand new speakers, lighting and sprinklers — Schoolcraft also said he’s going to try to revamp the bar’s image.

Teddy Burgess, longtime DJ and acting spokesman for Schooly’s, said the bar will probably adopt a dress code in the future, as well as a strong focus on hosting concerts, dance lessons and other events that will appeal to a wide range of clientèle.

“We had a certain reputation,” Burgess said. “But we’re cutting all that out, and we want everybody to know we’re cutting it out.”

Schoolcraft wouldn’t say exactly what type of past reputation he wants to lose in the bar’s second life. He said he’d rather stay focused on the future, and the changes that he hopes having a casual dress code and focus on live music will bring.

“We’re just trying to move forward,” he said.

Both men said the main focus in the future will be bringing in a well-known, nationally touring act at least once a month. However, it’s not all about live music; Burgess conducts karaoke on Wednesdays and teaches line dancing classes on Thursdays. There’s free pool in addition to the arcade games, Foosball and darts.

Schoolcraft said the bar — located at 102 E. Trade St. and open every day from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. — is coming along nicely, although there’s still work to be done. The grand opening at the end of the month will be a big step, he said, featuring a bike and car show and a concert by The Embers, a North Carolina beach music band that’s been touring since 1958. He’s planning to add a grill to feed hungry patrons, he said, as well as outside seating.

“This is totally updated,” he said.

And it had to be. Schoolcraft said he saved the sign, two American flags and a cash register from the fire, and not much more. The reopening took about two years due to struggles with insurance payments, which Schoolcraft said he eventually got cleared up thanks to some help from local Rep. Mike Stone, a fellow Jonesboro business owner.

Burgess, for his part, said he’s excited to help the bar to add a new angle to the local nightlife, especially as far as music is concerned.

“We want to bring something to Sanford that nobody’s seen,” he said. “We want to bring in those national bands.”