John Mason has developed the Elbo Room Lounge on the adage “build it, and they will come” and it seems to be working for this likable Rhinelander businessman with the quick smile and savvy acumen. This establishment has been a mainstay of downtown Rhinelander since the turn-of-the-century (1903 to be exact), and since John purchased it 10 years ago, it has seen a transformation that is truly awe inspiring.
Take for instance the original 16-foot-high stamped tin ceiling that John refurbished after discovering it under a dropped one.
“I really love history, and when I saw what was above that dropped ceiling I wanted to bring it back to life,” he said. He’s also kept the original bar back drop which looks like a mirror, but is really blue glass with “Elbo Room” etched into it.
The original copper and ash half moon bar has also been refinished, and John is more than happy to show off the spot where the old time piano made a dent as it was being moved. In fact, it’s a good bet that piano was played when Nat King Cole sang here, alongside his daughter Natalie, and Tony Bennett even found the Elbo Room Lounge to his liking when he visited in the 1950s.
Along with all this nostalgia, there is a pool table at the far end where customers can enjoy a game or two and it’s obvious that the turn-of-the-century neon lighting and friendly staff make the Elbo Room Lounge truly a place to relax and catch up with friends old and new.
Last year John also had the opportunity to purchase the space next door. At first he hesitated, and then decided it would make a great addition to this establishment, giving it a unique ballroom venue for bands that are not only locally known but nationally known as well. He opened up the space that used to be a drug store back in the day and added a long and interesting mural featuring popular singers such as Toby Keith, Faith Hill and the Rolling Stones.
“It can hold about 800 people standing up,” he said. And people do stand up when they come to listen to the musicians, who play a range of music here.
John and his Elbo Room Lounge will be starting off the fall season with a variety of musical talent in the next few weeks. On Saturday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. the hard rock band 12 Stones will be playing. Then on Friday, Sept. 21 starting at 7 p.m., 10 Years will be featured. On Sept. 22 country music fans will enjoy Steel Magnolia which will start at 7 p.m. and on Friday, Sat. 28 alternative rockers Vertical Horizon will thrill audiences with their lyrical style.
“Rhinelander is a unique venue for these musicians,” he said. “They like playing here and it certainly brings the downtown area to life when they do.”
The Elbo Room Lounge is located at 17 N. Brown St. in the heart of downtown Rhinelander. It is open Wednesday through Saturday from 5:30 p.m. to close.
For more information, call (715) 369-3535, or visit elboroomlounge.com.
Editors Note: To see additional pictures of the Elbo Room Lounge, visit this story on the Star Journal website at starjournalnow.com.