Bootleggers takes over White Horse site on 410

The White Horse, a longtime Buckley drinking establishment that closed its doors earlier this year, has officially been replaced by a different drink and eatery. The statue of the old bar’s namesake animal still tops the building at 29285 state Route 410, but the sign now reads Bootleggers. The new bar and restaurant opened Oct. 21.

“We decided it was kind of an icon,” Rick Schuneman, co-owner of Bootleggers, said. “We just changed it, painted over it from white to a Clydesdale coloring.”

Shuneman and sister Cindy Schaapveld leased the building from the property owners shortly after the White Horse was shuttered earlier this year.

Schuneman had recently moved from Minnesota. The siblings had been discussing opening a restaurant together and were looking for a space when the former White Horse became available.

The former establishment was pure bar, but Bootleggers strikes a balance between food and drink.

“We actually planned to focus on the bar and have just the food that you find in bars, the fried foods,” Shuneman said. “But it seems demand is pretty heavy for food now. We’re trying to find out what people want and build our menu around that.”

Though the name Bootleggers harkens back to the 1920s era of prohibition and clandestine speakeasies, the restaurant’s style adheres more closely to a modern country aesthetic. The first thing Schaapveld and Schuneman did upon taking possession of their building was to give the interior an extensive remodel, painting the walls and adding a corrugated stainless steel backing. The beer garden in back was cleaned and fixed up as well.

The restaurant will cater to families, Schuneman said. In fact, the building interior is roped off for accommodating a large general dining area. But the familiar trappings of taverns are there, too – five flat-screen televisions turned to sports, pool, darts and pulltab gambling.

Schuneman credits Jason Schafer, co-owner of other local bar Firehouse Pub, with giving him advice on the changing tax and other aspects of bar ownership as he prepared to open. Schafer even lent Bootleggers 30 barstools on opening week when a furniture order was delayed by a week.

Bootleggers has done a brisk business so far, Schuneman said. Weekends have been busy, but weekdays remain uncertain, leading management to over-schedule its 14 employees until a clearer picture is ascertained.

A grand opening is planned for the weekend of Nov. 20. A live band is intended to be scheduled for the event. A DJ has been hired to play to the weekend crowd three times so far, something which may become a regular occurrence, Schuneman said.

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