Branching out

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Al Key/DRC
Grant McGuire, owner of Treehouse Bar & Grill on West Hickory Street, stands on the second floor of the renovated building across from the University of North Texas on Thursday.
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They kept the trees and the exterior and renovated everything else.

The owners of the new Treehouse Bar & Grill renovated a 1920s building at 1512 W. Hickory St. — which once served as a fraternity house — with the goal of serving both college students and young professionals.

Father-and-son owners Mike and Grant McGuire worked with their project manager, Jason Williams of Links Construction, on the renovation project, which took up half of last year.

The goal of the project was to preserve the building’s original exterior and update the interior to something new and relevant, said Grant McGuire, 24.

“There was a lot of structural work that had had to be done,” said Mike McGuire, 52. “They rebuilt the house from the inside.”

Structural changes to the nearly 5,000-square-foot building included moving a stairway from inside to the exterior of the building and working on the pier-and-beam foundation.

The construction company kept the look of the place intact and added new doors, windows and ceilings and a rebraced roof. The building still has its original bricks, but it got a new front and fresh paint.

Williams said the project was challenging because of all the plumbing and mechanical installation involved, but the end result was worth it.

“We would meet and provide them with weekly updates, but they were also very involved,” Williams said of the McGuires.

Williams said having the owners involved in the renovations was helpful because they were able to discuss issues in the construction as they came up.

Mike McGuire learned that back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the building was a Sigma Nu fraternity house.

“The last use we learned of … was a Christian youth center, but I think it was vacant for almost five years before we got involved,” he said. “When we got it, the leasing agent and the landlord thought they had a restaurant deal lined up, and before it was all finalized, they got in and started doing some demolition. That deal fell through.”

Williams, a University of North Texas alumnus, said the owners wanted to add something different to the area and believes the new concept will be successful.

The owners call their new place a “transitional bar.” As a business student at the University of Pennsylvania, Grant McGuire saw a lot of bars competing for customers in his area, but he noticed that some thrived by adapting their hours and offering services to target two different types of clients.

“They knew that in three to five years, everyone at the school would be a young professional and would want to visit the establishment they frequented, but maybe see something a bit more upscale,” he said.

He described the Treehouse as a niche bar, a place where students could go at 21 as well as in their late 20s and after.

During the day, Mike McGuire said the bar feels like a restaurant; at night, the lights go down and clients can enjoy the bar atmosphere.

The owners hired a chef to design a small menu they could offer during the day. Offerings include Cuban sandwiches, pulled pork hoagies and baskets of wings.

Grant earned his degree in 2010, and Mike McGuire said he wanted to support his son with his business concept. He said his wife was initially surprised her son wanted to open a bar, but she came around.

Grant said he and his father have a good working relationship.

“We can say whatever we really think of each other and not get overly upset,” he said. “It would be different if I worked with someone I did not know. We are lucky enough to have those arguments and, at the end, still be fine with each other.”

KARINA RAMÍREZ can be reached at 940-566-6878. Her e-mail address is kramirez@dentonrc.com .

ON THE WEB

The Treehouse Bar & Grill:

www.thetreehousedenton.com


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