Northside Neighborhood Joint Gets New Owners

Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

BEHIND THE BAR AND BEHIND THE BUSINESS. On July 1, Lisa and Gary Gruen purchased Eau Claire bar Hobbsy & Me after decades of patronage.
BEHIND THE BAR AND BEHIND THE BUSINESS. On July 1, Lisa and Gary Gruen purchased Eau Claire bar Hobbsy & Me after decades of patronage.

Lisa and Gary Gruen have been regulars at Hobbsy & Me neighborhood bar (3620 Locust Lane, Eau Claire) since they became of-age decades ago.  In their late twenties, the couple moved into a house just a few blocks down the road from the joint, making it an all-too-convenient spot to hang out and enjoy a few drinks.

“Hobbsy’s has been a part of our lives for a very long time,” Lisa said. “Gary used to joke years ago that if this bar ever goes for sale, he’s going to own it.”

On July 1, the couple turned Gary’s jest into a reality, purchasing it from Randy and Ruth Kilness on the 20th anniversary of the day the former owners bought the establishment in 1999.

“We laugh, tell stories, talk about our old Hobbsy’s memories. The patrons truly care about each other and care about the well being of the bar and the neighborhood.”
– Lisa Gruen, co-owner of Hobbsy’s

The bar is known for delicious burgers and sandwiches at lunchtime, pizzas at all hours, and cold beer and mixers. They host an annual BBQ competition, Frogtoberfest, golf outings, an annual Christmas party, Old Farts New Years Eve, and many more events.  Lisa is particularly proud of the bloody marys they serve up, and of the friendly atmosphere. She says the people who come to Hobbsy’s are passionate about the North Side neighborhood, and about their favorite watering hole.

“The bar has a neighborly feel,” Lisa said. “Most of us know each other, and if you are new, then we will get to know you before you leave.” Over their years of patronage, the Gruens got to know the former owners quite well, taking on a more and more active role with the establishment by providing music and entertainment at events and helping out with other projects.

“We laugh, tell stories, talk about our old Hobbsy’s memories,” Lisa said. “The patrons truly care about each other and care about the well being of the bar and the neighborhood.”

“Hobbsy & Me is pretty great the way it is,” Lisa said. She and Gary don’t have plans to mess with a good thing. “We still cook the same amazing cheeseburger, we still have all the same decorations on the walls. We bought Hobbsy & Me because we loved it as it was, so we don’t have any plans to change that.”

The couple attributes the atmosphere they love to the hard work of the Randy and Ruth Kilness, and before that the bar’s namesake.

Hobbsy’s was named for Bill Hobbs, a Regis graduate and Badgers Rose Bowl athlete (1959). Hobbs and a business partner  purchased the bar, which had been known by many names previously, in 1985. Randy Kilness tended bar for Hobbs and was eventually promoted to bar manager before he and his wife bought the establishment.

Much of the staff at Hobbsy’s has worked there a long time, several having served during Bill’s and Randy’s ownership. Lisa considers them, Randy and Ruth, and the bar patrons and vendors the support system for the establishment.  “Everyone loves Hobbsy’s, and everyone wants to help us succeed,” she said.


More information about Hobbsy & Me is available online at www.hobbsyandme.com.  They’re open for business Monday-Thursday 11am-midnight, Friday-Saturday 11am-2:30am, and Sundays 3pm-midnight.