Who knew there were this many cowboy hats in Racine?
That's the first question likely to appear walking into the Raytown Roadhouse, Sixth Street's new country-western-themed bar. Jim Spodick and Pete Karas formally opened the ambitious bar, restaurant and music hall Saturday to a packed crowd.
Patrons were dressed the part, decked out in hats, boots and jeans, and acted it too. Line dancing broke out to the live music by Katie Beth (I assumed Karas and Spodick paid people to dance, but have been assured they didn't) and the drinks were flowing. The bar reportedly went through 50 cases of Miller Lite on Saturday night alone.
My wife and I ate at Raytown Roadhouse, 511 Sixth St. in Downtown Racine, a week earlier during its very soft opening. We were actually the restaurant's first-ever paying customers.
The food was great. My wife had the pork chops with sweet potatoes and I had a bacon hamburger with the onion strings. Both were reasonably priced, though I don't have the exact breakdown. Our bill, with a soda and tip, came to about $25.
Both meals were substantial and tasty. We both loved the sweet potato side and I'll re-order the burger when we go back. My wife couldn't finish the pork chops and really enjoyed them.
The rest of the big menu features steaks and sandwiches with some speciality meals mixed in. There's a handful of vegetarian items, including a veggie burger made from scratch on site.
Other notable/tasty items on the menu: deviled eggs, crab cakes, ribs and, for dessert, s'mores.
But while the restaurant is rolling - all tables were full until 8:30 p.m. Saturday night - it's the music may be the major draw. Karas and Spodick are booking live bands on Friday and Saturday night, making it arguably the largest/best country music club in southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Word got out so quickly to regional bands that they've already signed a deal with a promoter to book shows, Karas said.
Opening night featured Katie Beth and Geoff Landon and the Wolfpack. They have two more bands scheduled for this weekend. Four Lane Highway is scheduled to play Friday night and Georgia Overdrive is booked for Saturday night.
Along with good bands, they've created a sharp venue for the shows. Karas and Spodick converted the back of the building into a music hall with a decent-sized stage and plenty of room for line dancing. Karas and Spodick are making an early play for some decent country bands in southeastern Wisconsin and beyond.
As crazy as a country bar seemed on Sixth Street, Karas and Spodick may have nailed this one. Here's what Katie Beth wrote on the Raytown Roadhouse wall after playing Saturday:
We had a great time. Thanks so much for having us out! We would love to play again, you have a very unique and awesome opportunity to bring in some great acts toa great place. This is what Milwaukee has needed for a very long time. Hope to see you again and Keep ROCKING!!Karas added they're already seeing signs that the Raytown Roadhouse is bringing new people into Downtown Racine. Saturday night he estimated 75 percent of the crowd was from out of town.
That's good news for the 500 block of Sixth Street, which is fast becoming the city's entertainment district. Raytown Roadhouse, Park 6, Tango Bar and Henry & Wanda's are all nearby, and plans are underway to create the new bar Peppermint at 515 6th St. and the new restaurant Caliente in the former Timothy York's Bistro at 600 6th St.
With the street done, it looks like Sixth Street is ready to roll.
Thanks, Bill for the photos!