By: By Nick Perkins

Listen. We’re going to let you in on a little secret. Nobody is good at karaoke. Like, anybody. Like, ever. Nobody is ever good at karaoke. But, good news- that’s not the point! The point of karaoke is not to audition for season 56 of American Idol. It’s to have fun, to laugh and to make memories that, ideally, alcohol will not impair.

That being said, we are here to present you with a list of Do’s, Don’ts, Tips and Tricks for Karaoke Night in The District. The Office Bar and Grill offers karaoke every Friday and Saturday night so we suggest taking this list to heart. Study it. Memorize it. Live by it. Thank us later.

Do) Make An Event Out of it

Going to the same bar every weekend gets boring. It’s the same old story. Drink, hit on somebody/get hit on by somebody, drunk text an ex, lather, rinse, repeat. So why not make ‘going out’ an actual event and make Friday night “Karaoke Night!!” Gather your group of friends, pick out your favorite matching outfits and prepare a list of various Spice Girls songs to belt out.

Don’t) Snapchat Entire Said Event

It’s dark. It’s loud. Nobody cares. Live for the moment.

Do) Sing Your Little Heart Out

As previously alluded to, nobody is good at karaoke. That shouldn’t inhibit you though. Pick out your favorite song, the one you know all the words to, and sing sing sing. Forget what the crowd thinks, this moment is for you. Lose yourself. You only have one moment. You only have one shot, one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted. Would you capture it? Or just let it slip?

Editors Note: Our favorite song to karaoke to is “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

Don’t) Cry Your Little Heart Out

Okay, so. Karaoke is not for everybody. It is not for somebody who, for instance, recently broke up with his girlfriend, decided to drown his sorrows in Jame-O and decided to serenade the entire bar with his rendition of “Brown Eyed Girl.” He then proceeded to break down in tears, shatter his glass on the wall and yell into the microphone that “She will always be MY BROWN EYED GIRL.” Karaoke was not for me, er, him.

Do) Sing Any Song From the 80’s or 90’s

Who isn’t going to swoon when you sing “Tell Me Why” by the Backstreet Boys? Who isn’t going to respond with “Ba Ba Ba” when you belt out Sweet Caroline? Nobody, that’s who. Nobody isn’t going to do that. So feel free to pick any song from either of those decades. Meatloaf? Stevi Nicks? Check and check. What about Paula Abdul or the Spice Girls? Uhmmm. Yes please. Neil Diamond will forever be a karaoke institution, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Don’t) Sing Any Song from the 2010’s

Nothing is good. Music sucks. Art is dead.

Do) Drink Until You’re Confident

They call it “liquid courage” for a reason. That reason is because it is liquid that gives you courage. Alcohol has transformed the meek little librarian into Madonna. Alcohol has turned your Aunt Joan into Joan of Arc. Alcohol has caused great men to do even greater things, including having the spauldings to sing “Zoot Suit Riot” to a room full of onlookers. It’s okay to be confident. If you’re not, it’s okay to drink until you get that way.

Don’t) Drink Until You’re Over-Confident

Leave your shirt on, chuckles. We’re all here to have a good time and sing and laugh and maybe even dance a little bit. We are not here to see your hips, your back, your bad word or your crack. We hope that your drink has made you feel like you have the voice of Britney Spears. But you do not have her body, Bradley.

So, there you have it. Our list of Do’s and Don’ts are designed to help you achieve maximum fun with minimal effort at The Office. Please do so responsibly. If you had to drink until you remembered all the words to “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” please call a cab. Please don’t start fights. Please leave all of your clothes on. Please don’t boo fellow singers. Please oh please oh please tip your bartenders, your servers and your karaoke DJ’s. The more you tip them, the more you’ll get to sing your little heart out. And isn’t that what this is all about?

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By: By: Nick Perkins

He knew when he was a little boy that this was his dream. When Lyle Murtha, principal architect of Stateline No. 7 Architects, was a grade school student in rural South Dakota, he took a test that outlined various career choices he could pursue, based on the abilities he thought he had.

“I think I was in grade school when I took the little test you take to score your abilities and it sort of pushed me towards math and graphics,” Murtha stated. “I didn’t want to be an artist, ya know, because of that poor starving artist idea, so architecture sort of fit the bill. There was math and graphics and geometry in there too, so it all sort of made sense.”

It all made sense. He had the brain of a statistician and the hands of an artist but it was his heart, more than anything else, that led him into architecture. But Murtha, a graduate of the University of Nebraska, didn’t want to just create new, he wanted to rebuild old. That love for older, historic buildings began, again, when Murtha was a child.

“I grew up in kind of a historic house on a farm in South Dakota and all through my education I was going to school in these older buildings,” Murtha started. “We didn’t have new school buildings. And then when I went to college, I was housed in this old, historic architecture hall on their campus. So, I always had an appreciation.”

“A lot of these buildings were rehashed over the years to become newer, they weren’t just old buildings. I always had an appreciation for the older buildings.”

It is that appreciation that was always in the back of Murtha’s mind while he further developed his craft. He worked for various firms back in his home state of South Dakota, before moving to Casper more than two decades ago. One of the first things he did when he hit town, he said, was to document all of the historic architecture across the city and especially in the Old Yellowstone District.

 

 

“When I first moved to town, some twenty-five years ago, I went around taking pictures of all the cool, old buildings around town,” Murtha said. “Today, none of them are here. They tore them all down and, in most cases, for nothing more than a vacant lot. I’m like, ‘Oh my God this is horrible.’”

“What are we doing? We’re ripping up our downtown so we can pave it like it’s a Walmart parking lot and that’s not what downtowns are about.”

Murtha vowed to himself that, when he was able, he would change that. He designed a variety of projects in Casper, including, but not limited to: FireRock Steakhouse, Wyoms, both Jonah Banks, the Park Ridge Professional building, Wyoming Machinery Company and more. Long story short, dude was busy. But his passion for history never waivered and when a former colleague mentioned that he was interested in being the contractor for a loft-living style building, Murtha knew just the building.

“The same contractor I worked with [in Rapid City] liked the idea [of loft living] and wanted to do it for himself, so when the county annex building came up for sale, I called him up and said ‘Hey, here’s your opportunity, are you in?”

“That became the Hotel Virginia and we introduced loft lifting on a multi-unit scale.”

After restoring that building, Murtha turned his sights towards the Old Yellowstone district. He purchased the now-named T Square building in 2011 and set about restoring a piece of history.

Murtha said the T Square building was “originally a warehouse named the Chicago Northwestern Rail Yard and it stretched from Bloedorn Lumber down to the Nic.”

The building occupied a lot of space and housed a lot of different renters in its 100-year existence. It played host to Party Animals and Two-Tymers, among others. But when Murtha bought it in 2011, he saw so much more potential. He turned that building into a 6,500 square feet office/living area, with an additional 12,300 square feet left unfinished for future developments. Stateline finished this first phase of the project in 2014, acting as their own general contractor in a lot of instances, and it is now something that truly needs to be seen to be believed.

Per their portfolio, “The T Square building embodies the delicate balance between historic preservation and sustainability in this downtown turn-of-the-century railroad warehouse style building. The clear distinction between new and old highlights and pays respect to the historic structure while serving the contemporary uses.”

“The one thing about renovating an older building like this is that in some ways, it’s easier and in some ways it’s more difficult,” Murtha said. “A lot of them already have the character- the architecture is already there. The building shell and the structure, the bones of the building, etc. So you really have to set your ego aside and play to what is already there.”

“When you do a renovation to an existing building, at least in my opinion, if you’re doing it right, you should respect what’s there.”

And, really, that is what it’s all about for Murtha and his team at Stateline No. 7 Architects. Respect. They respect the history of downtown Casper. They respect the culture. They respect the work it takes to create a downtown that people actually want to be a part of.

“One of the reasons why I wanted to buy this particular building (it was way more work than I thought it would be), but because it was on a prominent corner, I knew it would sort of be an advertisement for this type of work,” Murtha said.

 

 

It was, and many other businesses wanted to follow suit. Art 321 was designed by Murtha with the same aesthetics of T Square in mind- very industrial with exposed duct work exposed conduit,old-school lighting fixtures and more. With other architects and contractors seemingly taking a page out of Murtha’s book, it quickly became evident that downtown Casper was going to be transformed and everybody, it seemed, wanted to be a part of history.

“Other firms came along too,” Murtha said. “And we helped them realize that you really should just leave well enough alone and, yeah, you have to put in new lighting and you have to replace windows and things like that, but do it in a way that respects the building.”

“It’s not just about renovating the building,” Murtha continued. “It’s about the greater community and we got into revitalizing downtown buildings because a lot of these older buildings are in the older, downtown part of town. So then we started evolving into other projects- not necessarily renovation projects but new construction in downtown.”

That new construction in downtown transformed into the David Street Station, a huge plaza right in the heart of The District. “It sort of ties into the [idea] of bringing people back to downtown,” Murtha admitted.

With the renovation of older buildings and the creation of new ones, downtown Casper is thriving. The addition of various bars and restaurants and shops to The District has made it a destination for community members.

And perhaps this was Murtha’s goal all along. When he came to Casper 25 years ago, he wanted to live in a community that not only respected the history of its buildings, but also one that wanted a different kind of culture.

“Denver and other cities have always focused on their downtown and I think Casperites, in my mind, have always strived for that cultural fix of having an art museum and things downtown and now we can keep our money here; we can keep our people here on weekends instead of sending them to Colorado,” he said. “People understand. They don’t like what it used to be and they’re digging what’s happening and they’re coming down, they’re supporting it. They’re spending their money and they’re spending their time. People are coming. It’s working.”

The saying went, “If you build it, they will come” and that’s exactly what happened. Murtha and a host of others have committed to turning downtown Casper into a thriving community, with respect for the past and eyes on the future.

So what does the future hold for Murtha? What would he like to see in The District?

“We need downtown living,” he said. “We need somebody to come into the Old Yellowstone District and build some downtown living units.”

Downtown living is something Murtha is no stranger to, as the T Square building serves as both his office and his home.

“It’s cool to live downtown. It’s a trend that I think the younger generation gets, but not so much the older generation. They’re still tied to living in the suburbs and wanting to mow the lawn, for whatever reason.”

Specifically, Murtha has his eyes on another building that he hopes will be his to one day design, pending legislation funding.

“Your favorite project should always be your next project,” Murtha said. “Our next project, hopefully, will be the Casper State Office Building.”

With his eyes on the future and his thoughts in the present, Murtha said he is proud to be a part of a growing downtown district. Revitalizing historic buildings, using his talents to preserve stories and helping to draw communities closer together has been his dream since he was a little boy. He couldn’t have know then that he would literally help rebuild an entire district. Back then, he was just a little boy with a pencil and a dream.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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By:

 The Wyoming Craft Beer explosion has been here for quite some time. It’s really no surprise to anyone, and if you asked, people could name several Wyoming breweries and even tell you what some of their favorite beers are.
Not only has the number of breweries increased in Wyoming, but more of them are distributing their fine beers across the state. Arguably, Casper my be one of the most thirsty towns for Wyoming craft beer. We travel the state and visit breweries, and we host some really great craft beer events. Our crowd knows what they like, and they are ready to try something new from our Wyoming breweries who work so hard to make great, and award winning craft beer. It’s safe to say Casper is a craft beer town, but it’s even safer to say Casper is a Wyoming beer town.
Much like the downtown of many Colorado cities, getting together with a group of friends and hopping from place to place to try beers and have a good time is becoming a weekend norm. The six blocks of the District boasts Casper’s hot spot for craft beer. But not just all craft beer, Wyoming craft beer. If you are looking for a mini-tour with friends or just something new, the District is where to go to wet your whistle.
Although the taps are always changing, there are over twenty four Wyoming brews in the District right now:
Mishap Brewery:
Raspberry Blonde
Blacktooth Brewery: 
1314
Saddle Bronc Brown
Bomber Mountain Amber
Baltic Porter
Cowboy Joe
Copper Mule
Tensleep Brewery:
Speedgoat
Lander Brewing Company:
Rock Chuck Rye
Half Tanked Here
Chile Ale
Chain Reaction
IPA
Weizen Bock
Gold Kolsch
Big Lost:
Black Alt
Melvin:
Hubert
2×4
Killer Bees
Hey Zeus
Luminous:
Saison
Snake River:
Pale Ale
Pako’s
Roadhouse:
Family Vacation

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By: Nick Perkins

Nostalgia. The word comes from the Greek root-words “Nostos,” which quite literally means “to return home” and “Algia,” which is described as “a painful condition.”

For Chefs Kayla Page and Bob Henry, they knew it was going to be a battle against nostalgia when they accepted positions with the newly-christened C85 Group, which includes the C85 Pump Room (formally Poor Boys restaurant), the former Galles Liquor Mart, a burger-joint called The Branding Iron and, of course, The Wonder Bar. The latter was an especially controversial point of contention and when it was announced that The Wonder Bar would be getting a facelift, the reaction was…not good. It was, in fact, a very painful condition.

Still, both Henry and Page came on board of what many thought would be a sinking ship. Henry would be the Culinary Manager of C85 Group as a whole and Page would be the Kitchen Manager of The Wonder Bar. Both would be thankless positions at first. But they trusted themselves and they trusted each other. They didn’t want to fight nostalgia; they wanted to embrace it.

“The moment that I walked into this restaurant, I saw history being brought back,” said Chef Kayla. “We are really trying to bring back a part of history with each restaurant- whether it’s physically, emotionally, mentally- even by the food.”

The food is what both chefs are most passionate about and it shows with each entrée that is created. Chef Bob Henry is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Scottsdale. He is classically trained and when the opportunity arose for him to work with Cole Cercy, owner of C85 Group, he knew this was a chance to bring something different to Casper.

“I knew Cole Cercy for quite a bit and [opening a string of restaurants] is one of the dreams that he wanted to fulfill,” Henry said. “He wanted to bring some great restaurants into Casper and start going down a new career path and so we got together, and I decided ‘Yeah, I’d like to go on a new adventure.’”

Joining Chef Bob on this adventure was Kayla Page. A Casper native, Page had worked in restaurants for years, both in and out of the kitchen.

“I started in restaurants when I was younger and tried different things elsewhere but for some reason [I] just kept getting dragged back to the food,” Page admitted. “I was good at it. I’m passionate about it. I’m consistent. That’s just what I thrive in. I love the people’s reactions when I hand them a dish and see their faces just light up, like they’re just mesmerized by that plate. It’s very passion-driven.”

Passion is the word that both chefs kept coming back to in our conversation.

“You have to have passion for food,” Chef Bob almost scolded. “If you don’t have passion for food, you have nothing in a kitchen. You can’t make that beautiful plate that you want to make consistent every time. You have to want to wake up every day and walk into that kitchen and make it happen and if you don’t have that drive, you can’t really do anything successfully.”

Both chefs were determined to make The Wonder Bar a success, and they knew the key to that success came not from themselves, but from the team they surrounded themselves with.

“The hard part is that I know I can do it,” Henry stated. “But can I teach a crew of 17 people to do it? Can I get a crew of 17 people to believe in what I believe in and to hold the standard and the expectation that we want to set for all the guests that come into our place?”

It was important for Henry to build a team that he would stand not in front of nor behind, but next to, side by side, in the trenches.

“The biggest and most important thing to me is making sure that my people are taken care of and that they know that I stand by them every day in battle. If they see that, then they will follow and they will become great.”

With the culinary avengers assembled, Henry and Page focused the rest of their attention on building a menu that was new, but familiar. There were hiccups along the way. There were growing pains. There was feedback- some good and some not so good. But they’ve listened to all of it, and have adjusted accordingly.

“We’re working on a seasonal menu right now because we listen to Casper,” Henry said. “We’ve listened to them say ‘Hey, the food is really great but we feel like the price point is a little high. We feel like we want a soup or a salad with our entrees.’ We’ve made some of those adjustments already and we’re making a seasonal menu that’s going to bring a price point to Casper that I think is what they’re looking for.”

Henry continued, saying “we are constantly listening and we want to make changes and adapt so that Casper can come back into their Wonder Bar and have a wonderful time.”

The Wonder Bar looks a little different. There are new bars and a new staff and new food. But the spirit is still there. The history is there. The memories are there and, perhaps most importantly, the passion is there. This passion starts at the top and trickles all the way down. Everybody involved with The Wonder Bar, The Branding Iron (which opens January 2nd) and the other C85 establishments have committed to creating something special.

Still, there are those who will dig their heels in the ground, cross their arms and say, “this is MY house, not theirs.” That’s okay. Nostalgia is a powerful emotion. Chef Bob and Chef Kayla know this and they are not going to fight it. They are going to use it. That’s why they take extra time to make sure that when you bite into a 100% Wyoming-raised steak, it will take you to another time, another place. When you bite into a piece of chicken fried quail, you are going to remember the first time your grandmother made your favorite meal.

“I wanted to give Casper something that they know, but cook it in a technical way,” Henry said.

And that’s exactly what he’s doing. Gone are the days of a deep fried Tower of Taste (not that there’s anything wrong with deep fried, well, anything) and in its place are meatloaf bites, deconstructed grilled cheese and tomato bisques and more. The nostalgia is real and you can taste it in every bite. We might miss the greasy goodness that comes from soaking up a pint of beer with a trash can burger, but the minute one bites into a Monte Cristo sandwich, that person is transported back to a time before they were even old enough to drink. The food that was previously served at the Wonder Bar was good. It was comforting. It was…home. The food being served now is all of that and more. It is transcendent. It is cooked with nostalgia in mind and with passion in the hearts of those who prepare it.

You’re going to taste the passion that these chefs have. And then you’re going to come back for more.

“That’s what C85 Group is all about,” Henry stated. “We want to make downtown Casper great again and we want people to come down here and thrive and hang out and shop and be able to have places to go and eat.”

With three restaurant/bars within walking distance of each other, that should not be a problem. It’s just up to the community to embrace their nostalgia while also remaining willing to create new memories in new places, with new people. According to Chef Kayla, that’s all the staff of C85 wants- a chance.

“Come in. Give us a try. Come see what we’ve done. Everyone that is in this building is here because of you and our biggest goal is to make sure that Casper knows that the Wonder Bar is here to stay and we want everyone to come celebrate with us.”

 

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