Varsity Room restaurant

Ned Luke chooses photos featuring area high-school athletes that will hang inside the new downtown restaurant, Varsity Room, set to open in mid-August.

The owners of a new downtown restaurant are in a last-minute rush to complete renovations in time to open the doors to customers sometime during the next two weeks.

Brothers Steve and Ned Luke had originally hoped to open by this weekend, but said renovations and finalizing food vendor contracts had been slower than expected and forced them to move the opening back.

The brothers took over the former Brewstar café and its building lease in June after that restaurant closed in 18 months, renaming it “Varsity Room” and predicting an end-of-July opening.

“Things are starting to shape up,” said Ned. “The front of the ‘house’ is basically ready to go and we’ve pretty much decided what we’re going to serve.”

“We just need to get some food in here and we’re ready to go,” said Steve, an assistant football coach at Danville High School. He added he’s sampled so much food in the past month he was starting to worry about his waistline.

“I’m ready for school to start so I can get away from all of this food.”

While the owners have decided on a menu, they are still haggling with dealers about pricing and delivery. Most of the inside of the restaurant has been changed, though the two are still working on completing a kids’ game room in the back portion of the restaurant.

The restaurant’s signature draw will be a local sports theme, wherein customers bring old mementos, pictures and movies of county sports teams and events. The restaurant will offer themed movie nights with game films, and owners plan to decorate the walls and a “locker room” display with photos and old sports items like jerseys and trophies.

And while they’ve received enough items to fill a large portion of the main wall and a portion of the lockers, the Lukes have been disappointed that most of the items donated at this point have been Danville centered.

“We don’t want this to be a Danville sports shrine,” Ned said. “We want this to be a county sports shrine. It’s essential for this place for it to work that way.”

Currently the photos show a cross-section of mostly Danville sports, including old cheerleading and track squads from schools including Danville High School, Schlarman High School and Danville Lutheran School. A few shots include other area teams, such as Hoopeston standout athlete Jeff Stipp and one of a Georgetown vs. Schlarman football game in 1951. There is a photo of the first American Legion game played in the 1950s, a 1926 swim team, as well as other major sporting events in the county’s history.

The idea, say the Lukes, is for customers to not only donate items, but to come in and “browse” them to find and identify themselves and friends while they eat.

“We need more items and we’ll go back as far as we can go,” Ned said. “We’re really hoping people from other towns in the county step up. We have a lot of walls to fill.”

Recommended for you