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The Sand Bar II owners and crew spruce up old building

Co-owner Ross Leinus (left) and longtime employee Mary Bekkerus are two of the eight-staff crew that rolled up their sleeves to pull off a huge DIY project that has the Sand Bar shined up like a new penny. PAULA QUAM/DL NEWSPAPERS

It was the ultimate do-it-yourself project.

Sand Bar II owners Ross Leinus and Dave Meyer knew their old bar and grill was getting a little long in the tooth.

“We wanted to spruce ‘er up a bit,” said Leinus, who had the vision of essentially gutting out most of the inside surface.

But instead of hiring it out and laying their employees off during the June construction project, the two owners asked cooks and servers alike if they’d be interested in  changing professions for a couple of weeks and doing it themselves.

“So we did,” said Sand Bar II server Mary Bekkerus, who said it was better than sitting at home not collecting a paycheck.

“Demo, cleaning, scrubbing, power-washing, painting — whatever it was, we were here to do it.”

For two and a half weeks the crew that normally serves up homemade soups, burgers and drinks were instead ripping out flooring, painting and remodeling.

Aside from the professionally laid flooring, the entire project ended up being a labor of love.

The rosemary green walls the staff was all sick of are now light pine paneling and firecracker red.

“I call it paprika,” smiled Bekkerus, who says she loves the fresh new feeling of the place she’s worked in for over 25 years.

She’s seen the building, which started out as a garage in the early 1970s, evolve over the years with a big back-room addition, kitchen expansion and and some little paint jobs, but she says this has been the best.

“I love it.  I think it’s so much better,” said Bekkerus, who says the cushiony floor is her favorite part of change, “It’s been five years since we’ve had smoking in the bars, so just getting all the old stuff out and fresh … it’s great.”

The two owners, six employees and a few volunteers were able to pull their talents together to transform the look and feel of the Sand Bar II, which is structurally the same but visually very different.

Brand new, shiny bar stools reflect the neon lights as the old bar top that was once written on and carved into is now an eye-catching bamboo with a slick epoxy finish.

“There were a few people that missed the nostalgia of the old bar, but they got over it,” laughed Bekkerus, adding that the customers are loving it, too, “It’s just so much nicer and cleaner and healthy.”

New floors and additional stainless installed in the kitchen set the stage for an even more sanitary work space as the cooks conjure up the specials that have become special to many for many years.

“We really are a neighborhood bar,” said Bekkerus.

“People come out every week for the steak fry and the homemade soups; we are kid friendly and we also adapt to the seniors and their appetites, so we are a true neighborhood bar.”

And now, thanks to the hard work of its employees and a few volunteers, that neighborhood bar shines like a new penny, ready to serve up the food and drink that keep making the regulars happy six days a week.

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