LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Built in 1868, La Crosse's Bluffside Tavern has become a popular gathering spot, from all walks of life, as a place to have a drink and catch up.
The tavern is where you'll find the Sunday morning crowd; where the big game is as important as the company.
This neighborhood bar existed before there was even a neighborhood, built to feed the quarry workers up on Grandad Bluff.
"Over the years the quarry closed, and the buildings changed, and the neighborhoods moved around, and the Bluffside's still here," said owner Mike Gazeley.
When business is good, there's elbow room only, Gazeley said.
At its mature age, the Bluffside Tavern is looking to expand. The attached storage apartment, is the perfect expansion, Gazeley added.
"All there (is), is some walls keeping the two (spaces) separate. We just want to take some walls down and add on to that part of it," he said.
The Bluffside Tavern's current capacity allows 59 people. Gazeley wants to expand that to 99, add handicap accessible bathrooms, and use the attached garage and lot for additional parking.
"When people travel, they want to go where the locals go," said Dave Clements, executive director of the La Crosse Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Just up the bluff is one La Crosse's main tourist sites: Grandad Bluff.
Clements said improving the tavern means improving a landmark.
"The city spent over a million dollars improving Grandad Bluff, and (improving the Bluffside) it's just another piece of the component of improving the image of our community," Clements said.
But one neighbor is speaking out, saying the project lessens the neighborhood's value, Gazeley said.
"I don't have a problem with anyone who objects," he said. "That's certainly their right."
But to Gazeley, this expansion is just an open invitation for beer and a chat.
"That's why the Bluffside's here," he said.
Under the proposed renovations, the tavern's structure would not change.
Because the building is in a residential area, it has to be rezoned for the construction to take place.
The city council will discuss the rezoning this week.
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