Two bars on West Franklin plan expansion


Some new additions on West Franklin Street could be coming soon. A pair of restaurants on both sides of the street look to grow in the great outdoors.

Evansville-Vanderburgh County Area Plan Commission considered plans Monday for Bud’s Rockin’ Country Bar & Grill and Piston’s Bar & Grill, but neither are cleared to build yet.

Bud’s used to be home to the Harley Davidson shop. The country bar opened in late March after years of back-and-forth with the city.

Chad Brady, manager of Bud’s, says it feels good to finally see it open.

“Hearing after hearing and every time we would go in they would tell us change this, change that and come back,” Brady said about the long process with the city. “We were ultimately denied.”

Original plans for Franklinstein’s in the same building was rejected by the Board of Zoning Appeals. City council changed a parking ordinance, and Bud’s was reborn.

Brady now says there are plans to expand outside. Evansville APC is considering a request to add more tables and a wrap-around covered patio between Franklin Street Tavern.

“It brings back memories of Bud’s Harley,” said hostess Rhonda McFarland. “I rode quite a few Harley’s up in here!”

Brian Branson was eating at Bud’s for the third time in as many weeks. “I bought several bikes down here, spent a lot of time,” he said.

Piston’s is also ready to grow its outdoor seating. A manager says they hope to expand the second-floor balcony around the building. It would overlook 11th Avenue.

Piston’s would remove an upstairs apartment to add to the deck.

According to Blaine Oliver with APC, Piston’s still needs to get plumbing and electrical plans to the Building Commission and Fire Department.

Bud’s may need to apply for a cafe permit to have outdoor seating, Oliver said. Bud’s is still working with the city to finalize it before getting a permit to build.

Dana Newingham, visiting Bud’s for the first time, is glad to see business grow.

“I think it’s cool when everything on Franklin Street just keeps getting better and better and better.”

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This story was originally published on April 15, 2019

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