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Belly Up

Oct 13 , 2011
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‘Slip into the Nip and crawl home,’ a Kelly’s Little Nipper mantra

Albert Logan mixes up his own creation, the “Fuzzy Nipper,” using 99 Banana, Triple Sec, OJ and cranberry juice. He and Kelly’s Little Nipper’s new owner Cory Steiner (also pictured) take turns behind the bar and manning the grill along with other staff members.

By Amber Williams

When’s the last time you bonged a beer? At Kelly’s Little Nipper, if you can down a $3 mini pitcher in five seconds, it’s free. Just keep in mind that they’ve only had one customer complete the task.

“We like everyone to have fun here. We like to bring everyone into the mix,” said new owner, Cory Steiner. “If I’m doing a shot, everyone’s doing a shot.”

“He’ll line them up all the way down the bar,” longtime bartender Patty Jessen added.

Jessen has been with the bar so long she can remember when it was just an Irish pub called Kelly’s. Then Ernie Nipper bought it and changed the name to what it is today. She’s been there so long, in fact, the Patty Rite sandwich was named after her.

“I come with the building,” she quipped. Even the owner looks to her to keep in the loop. She’s undoubtedly one of the staples of Kelly’s Little Nipper that gives it its charm and attracted Steiner into buying the landmark this summer.

“It’s got history,” he said. “It’s been known forever as a good east side neighborhood bar. I bought it for the bar, the people — everything. It’s a good place, and I always wanted to own a neighborhood bar.”

Fixed on the busy corner of East Grand and 17th Street, Kelly’s Little Nipper has been that neighborhood bar since its resurrection in the early 1940s. It was known as Kelly’s then, and the place has changed about as much as the name — hardly at all. The people like it the way it is, and attempts at changing things by past owners has never proven to be too popular among the common crowd.

But Steiner has made a few improvements in the past few months. The outdoor patio, which is enclosed in a tall privacy fence, has new furniture, lighting and greenery. The menu has some tasty additions as well, such as the Philly, the meatball and the Casino burger, as well as some spicy bacon-wrapped jalapeño tater tots. And he brought back the famous tenderloin that’s as big as your face — literally.

“It’s a guaranteed two meals,” said Albert Logan, one of the day cooks.

Unlike most bar and grills, the kitchen is always open, too. If the bar’s open, anything on the menu is available — a sobering delight during a night of heavy drinking, which is every Saturday night, they said.

“Saturday isn’t the young crowd or the old crowd. Saturday is the drunk crowd,” Logan said.

That’s because karaoke starts at 8 p.m., and the $10 wristbands start at 10 p.m. With the purchase of a wristband, patrons can drink draws and wells for free until 1:30 a.m.

“Every Saturday is getting better and better,” Steiner said. CV


Kelly’s Little Nipper

1701 E. Grand Ave.


Hours of Operation: 9:30 a.m. to midnight Mon.-Thurs.; ‘til 2 a.m. Fri. and Sat.; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.

Happy Hour: 4-7 p.m. Mon.-Friday, buy one get one free; $2 wells and $1 draws on Sun.

Capacity: 46

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