Keri Reeder jokes that she's never worked so hard before in her life. And based on the hours she's spent revitalizing Maximus Restaurant & Sports Bar, 329 23rd St., she's only half-joking.
The sports bar, owned by her and husband, Cory, was one of many forced to close down due to the pandemic. So both of the Reeders, and much of their staff, have been hard at work on a face lift for both Maximus and their other location, Reeder's 11th Street Grub and Pub, 250 11th St.
At Maximus, patrons will notice a new look based on a more modern theme of black and gray colors. The trim around the ceiling has been updated from oak to tin, the light fixtures are tin, the ceiling panels have been cleaned and painted, most of the bar has received a fresh coat of paint, the bar back has been redone, six to eight TVs added throughout, new pool tables and updated bathrooms.
Reeder's has also received new paint, had the bar redone and the original ceiling exposed.
It was a tremendous team effort, but perhaps no one was as involved as Keri.
“I was here every day, except for two Sundays, from the time we closed until this past Sunday," Keri said. "A lot of early mornings; a lot of evenings; a lot of trips to Menards."
Her inspiration for the new look started with the light fixtures and grew from there. Through remodeling at homes she and Cory have lived in, and work at rental properties, she already had most of the knowledge necessary to complete the work.
It was done primarily because it was needed but also because it gave the Reeders a way to keep much of their staff employed. The two bars/restaurants have a staff of about 22 people between seven or eight downtown and the rest at Maximus.
The Payroll Protection Program that was passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March has helped fill some of the gaps without regular business income. The Reeders applied for and received the loan the first time it was offered.
“It was one of those things where we’ve put in more time in the last six weeks that you never could have gotten done unless you shut down any other time," Cory said. "The staff was willing and able to do it; they helped; we kept them on the payroll. Those kinds of things helped for some of them.
“...We’ve been kicking it around for a couple of years. Then it became, ‘Well, we haven’t got anything else to do.’"
Between wait staff, cooks and food runners, there were many days six or seven employees were helping out.
All of the work was led by Keri, who had the vision.
"In all honesty, there were some differences in opinion between my wife and I. She proclaimed herself the designer, and I was the laborer, construction guy," Cory joked. "She painted every day for five weeks. She painted every piece of trim in here; all the ceiling tiles; all the tracks."
Of course, there was some uncertainty just how long Columbus and the state at large would remain locked down. But while that was a potential hurdle in terms of spending money on a new atmosphere that might not have been able to receive customers for months, Cory said the risk was only marginally considered.
Overall, it needed to be done. And if it was to be done, it was to be done fully.
“Now’s not the time to be pouring money into it, but it was kind of the only opportunity, and we said, ‘We’re going to be here on the other side of this thing, so, let’s make it right,'" Cory said.
Maximus won't be back to full operation until all of the health guidelines are clear and the bar can begin accepting large parties again. Reeders isn't as dependent on large gatherings but also won't be back to normal until full capacity is restored.
Yet, while challenges remain, Keri and Cory are already hearing compliments about the new look and are excited to unveil it to the community at large, even if it's a little bit at a time.
“Hopefully the customers appreciate it, the updating of it," Cory said. "I hope that they say, ‘This is a nice place. They’ve got a lot of big TVs. This is a nice place to watch a game or somewhere to come and eat.'"
Although new hours may be announced, both locations were open for business this past week.
Maximus was open for dine-in Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and in the evening 5-8. Takeout is also available for those times.
Reeder's offered dine-in breakfast from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays. Evening hours were Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 5-8. Curbside pickup is also available during those times.
Reeder's is also offering a new item on Friday nights: Prime rib dinner.
"Do I ever want to paint anything ever again in my life? No," Keri said. "But I’m very happy. I’m very proud of what it turned out to be. We’ve had so many people compliment that they like the new look."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com.
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