Quietly, a new bar opened in Nevada this past month. Lincoln Tap, owned by entrepreneur Jason Crimmins, 37, of Ames, occupies about half of the space that used to be Quirk’s restaurant in the old Smitty’s grocery store building along Sixth Street.
A soft opening worked perfectly for the new bar, Crimmins said. It was a way to see that “people want to find you,” he said, and after working on the new bar for a number of months beforehand, on Oct. 6 he propped the door open and “people started walking in.”
Crimmins isn’t new to the bar business. He presently owns Blue Owl Bar in Ames’ Campustown area, and he owns the Railhouse in downtown Boone. “I’ve had both of them for about five to six years,” he said. Before owning bars, Crimmins owned and operated a number of tattoo shops throughout northwest Iowa, a business endeavor he got into with his family.
Born and raised in Fort Dodge, where he was a 1999 graduate of St. Edmond High School, Crimmins went to the University of Iowa, earning a degree in psychology, a minor in sociology and an “entrepreneurial certificate,” he said, because they didn’t have a degree in that area at the time. Funny thing is, he put in more hours studying for that certificate than for the degree he graduated with in 2003.
He got married right out of college, and he and his wife took off for Kansas City, working some random jobs before moving back to Iowa. They settled in Ames in 2004, and he got involved in running a number of tattoo businesses with his family. “I never ‘tattooed,’ I just did the business part of it,” he said. At one time, he was in charge of eight different shops across northwest Iowa.
One of those shops, in Ames, was located on Welch and there was a bar next door. He started helping out with the bar, and before long, he found himself opening one, Charlie Yokes Bar, at the corner of Lincolnway and Welch. It was a month-to-month lease, and eventually, the property was sold to be redeveloped. So he moved on to other business opportunities with some restaurants and bars. Now, he is happy, he said, with his present ownership of three bars.
“I’ve always liked bars, because people in bars become family.”
Through a vendor, he found out about the space in Nevada that was already set up well for a bar. “I came over and looked at it,” he said, and from there he slowly worked with the building’s owners, the Heintzes, to get ready for the new business. “They’ve (the Heintzes) been really patient with me.”
While working to establish a staff for Lincoln Tap, Crimmins has spent a good deal of time in Nevada himself, getting things up and going. He admits that he really loves the community and that everyone who has come in has been very nice and supportive.
“I was 100 percent unfamiliar with Nevada three weeks ago,” he said with a laugh. But now he has friends, like Linda Mousel, who stops in most days to have a soda and watch “Jeopardy” on television.
“I love nothing more than him turning ‘Jeopardy,’ on and hanging out…,” Mousel said. She’s one of those who said she comes to a bar, not for drinking, but for socializing and spending time with others.
Crimmins is more than happy with customers like Mousel. “I’ll give ‘em a soda and they can watch TV with me,” he said. Or he can serve up something stronger. One thing some have asked about is craft beers. He has a few of those, he said, and he’ll be getting more as time goes on.
One thing he doesn’t have, he said, is food. But just because the business doesn’t make food, doesn’t mean people can’t have it in the bar. On Saturdays, he said, they’ve already had potlucks, where football fans have brought in whatever food they like and watched the games. He said he’s also fine with people ordering pizzas or food from other businesses and having it delivered there.
But he didn’t want to get into the food business, even though he has worked with restaurants in his past. He likes his bars to be bars. “I want it…to feel like a bar… a place where it is adults.” And surprisingly, he said, no one has been complaining about him not having food on hand. Once they find out it’s just a bar, “they are OK that we’re not serving food.”
When Crimmins isn’t working at one of his bars or checking in to see how things are going with his staff at each bar, he’s busy as a family man. He and his wife, Julie, have two children, Phoebe, 7, and Theo, 5, who are both students at St. Cecilia’s School in Ames.
He will have his Nevada staff in place soon — said he’s had great help from bartenders at his other two bars covering in Nevada during the first weeks. Along with those who come in to watch TV, others are getting involved in playing pool on Wednesday nights (they’ll have a league) and Crimmins also plans to set up a darts league. The bar also has some ticket games people like to sit and play.
Everyone who’s come in or who he’s worked with to establish the business, including city officials and police officers getting his contact information, has been great to get along with, he said. It’s all left him with a “fortunate feeling that the town has been excited about this [business] being opened,” which is a good sign for the future, he said.
Lincoln Tap is open every day, and its hours are easy “2” remember: 2 p.m. to 2 a.m.