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Published October 10, 2012, 02:43 PM

New Owners for Downtown Grand Forks Bars

A trio of downtown Grand Forks bars will have new ownership but the same management through a deal that transfers them from their owner to two long-time employees.

By: Christopher Bjorke, Grand Forks Herald

A trio of downtown Grand Forks bars will have new ownership but the same management through a deal that transfers them from their owner to two long-time employees.

Joshua Gilleland is selling Gilly’s Bar and Grill, O’Really’s Irish Pub and Level 10, all on the first block of North Third Street, to Nick and Sarah Horak.

Nick Horak has worked at the businesses for eight years and is their manager while Sarah Horak takes care of their accounting.

“They’re really excited and I think they’re going to do great at it,” Gilleland said.

Gilleland has been working with the businesses since 2006 but said he wants to concentrate on his trucking and construction business, Morgan Transport. He will retain a 5 percent stake in the ventures.

He said he has been in the bar business in Grand Forks and other places for 15 years and was ready to focus on something new.

“It was a good 15 years. I enjoyed the business,” he said.

The Horaks, who are married, will be taking over three nightspots that are a big part of Third Street’s status as a late-night entertainment destination. Patrons of the bars should not expect many changes at first.

“In the beginning we agreed we’re not going to do anything drastic,” Nick Horak said.

Later on they would like to expand the businesses’ food offerings to attract lunch and dinner customers in addition to their nighttime bar crowds.

Nick Horak has worked with the bars since before Gilleland purchased them. Sarah Horak has worked there since 2007. As they gradually took on more duties, Gilleland began talking to them about transferring the businesses.

“I think that he realized we were good, dependable employees,” Nick Horak said.

The three have applied to the city to transfer liquor licenses to the Horaks. The City Council’s Service and Safety Committee was to discuss approving the transfers Tuesday, but the issue has been delayed as the legal work of the ownership change goes forward.

The businesses employ about 100, according to the Horaks.

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