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Cully’s last call: Scoreboard Pub & Grille under new ownership beginning July 1

After 23 years, Steve Culhane has sold the Scoreboard Pub & Grille restaurant across from the Corn Palace.

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Long-time owner of the Scoreboard Pub & Grille, Steve Culhane, has sold his restaurant with new ownership taking over on July 1st. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

"It’s time."

That’s how longtime Scoreboard Pub & Grille owner Steve Culhane talks about his selling of the longtime staple in the heart of downtown Mitchell.

Saturday will be the last day the restaurant is open under Culhane’s ownership. On Thursday, July 1, the Scoreboard will open under its new owner Jason Bradley.

Bradley is the owner/operator of Mitchell’s Culver’s..

“It's been a lot of work. A lot of good things, a lot of heartaches. And it's just time to stop this and just concentrate on the one full-time job,” said Culhane, who has served as the Mitchell School District’s business manager since 1994 and has been with the district since 1984.

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In January, 1998 Culhane took over the Scoreboard, which at that time was located in the 300 block of North Main, from Joe and Ralph Kiner, located in the former State Theater building since the 1930s.

A devastating fire on May 1, 2004, took out the building leaving the Scoreboard without a physical home.

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Steve Culhane keeps the newspaper article documenting the former Scoreboard location's fire from back in 2004 inside the current Scoreboard Pub & Grille. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Matt Gade

Culhane admits he considered just calling it quits then.

“At the time, about two to three months before the fire occurred, I was thinking, ‘What do I want to do? Do I want to just, you know, discontinue this. Drop it?’ I know that the chamber had inquired about looking at this property. And then when the fire occurred on May 1, I decided to make the jump up to this location,” he said. “I think I would have been done if there wouldn't have been a location like this available next to the Corn Palace.”

Looking back at the old location to its current one, it’s night and day for Culhane.

“There's really no comparison. The old one was just an old pool hall, where the guys hung out,” he said. “This is where -- everybody comes to the Scoreboard Pub and Grille. Where down at the old place, not everybody would.”

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Adorning the walls of the Scoreboard have long been local sports memorabilia including pictures, article clippings and jerseys honoring the numerous athletes, coaches and teams to have come through throughout the years.

Some of those include Mike Miller autographed jerseys, Chad Greenway autographed items, several large photos of Mitchell Kernel state championships, Dakota Wesleyan University’s women’s basketball team picture from their national championship season in 2018 among others.

One of the most treasured items for Culhane himself, is his high school basketball team photo from his days playing with the Kernels and longtime coach Gary Munsen.

“I was a junior and senior in high school, that was (Munsen’s) second and third year as head coach. I'll be taking that (picture) home,” Culhane said.

While for most of the regular patrons, an iconic photo of Marilyn Monroe is what Culhane said is probably the most popular piece hanging up inside the restaurant.

As for the rest of the memorabilia, Culhane said he’s going to reach out to the people who donated over the years to give back their items, while some things he’ll keep.

“I think that the new owners want to just have their own things on the wall,” he said.

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Since moving to its current location adjacent to the Corn Palace, the Scoreboard has been busy. Taking advantage of the numerous events hosted by the Corn Palace, the Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce and other organizations throughout the years.

Corn Palace week is like our Super Bowl week,” he said. “And then I know the pre-Sturgis rallies have been just a huge day for us. First Fridays are great. Anytime there's an event at the Corn Palace, this (place) does well.”

While being busy has been good for business, it made juggling two full-time jobs that much more work.

Since their first day across from the Corn Palace, Culhane said it was his new hire for the day manager position, Renee Cundy, that has kept the place going as the number one constant for Culhane.

“She's been with me since we opened here. I always knew she was going to show up,” said Culhane, who’s struggled to find consistent help over the years.

COVID-19 proved to be particularly challenging to find help in 2020.

“I won't miss people not showing up for work. That's the biggest headache, that aspect of the business,” he said. “It's just compounded now with everybody else in the country not being able to get enough workers.

“If I would have employees like Renee, I’d still own it. Someone that was always dependable, always showed up.”

For the last month, Culhane said he has had just one cook, forcing him to split the workload.

“I had to miss my side of the family reunion two weeks ago because I couldn't leave here, because we didn't have enough help,” Culhane said. “Now like the Fourth of July weekend I'll be able to go up to the Minneapolis area and see my daughter and her three grandkids and that'll be fun.”

Culhane said he’s looking forward to being able to have more time with his wife Bonny, and to visit his kids and grandkids. His son Jeff is the voice for North Dakota State University athletics living in Fargo his wife, Sarah, and their son, Alex. Steve Culhane’s daughter, Jennifer McNair, lives in Minneapolis with her three kids: Joey, Julia and Jayla.

While Culhane had been looking to sell the Scoreboard for the past few years, opportunity finally aligned with Bradley with the sale being finalized in May.

“What I'll miss the most is the interaction with the regulars on a daily basis.” said Culhane, who doesn’t have any plans on retiring from the school district for a while, at least. “That's a lot sooner than later. I haven't put a definite date on that.”

Related Topics: RESTAURANTS AND BARS
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