Is Matt Larson of The G.O.A.T. Sports Bar in Greeley stubborn as a goat, or the Greatest?

If someone told you they were planning to open a brand new sports bar and restaurant in the middle of a pandemic, you might think they were stubborn. Even if they had decked out this new high-energy watering hole with 36 TV’s, eight of which encircle a 360 degree horseshoe-shaped bar in a cloud formation — the better for cheering on your favorite teams with your besties — you might just call that idea the perfect example of a Goat Rodeo.

Longtime Greeley restaurateur Matt Larson, owner of Kenny’s Steak House and Kenny’s Catering doesn’t think so. Larson admits he and his son Alex might be crazy, but the project has been in motion for two years, and Larson said timing is timing. In that, you might think Larson is stubborn as a goat. His stance is that they’re fortunate that The G.O.A.T. Sports Bar  is opening in the winter of 2021 and not 2020.

For a sports bar, the name is apt. “The Greatest of All Time is a fairly common term used in sports over the past several years,” Alex Larson said. “Beginning with Mohammad Ali, who used to say he was the greatest of all time, these days Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are referred to as The GOAT. In pop culture, it’s common too — it’s used in music, particularly in the hip hop and rap genres.”

The younger Larson mirrors his dad’s enthusiasm for their new project. “I refer to my dad as The GOAT of all restaurants.”

The GOAT sports bar
John Elway, one of the greatest athletes in Colorado, has a wall of murals dedicated to him in Greeley’s newest sports bar. (Photo: Emily Kemme)

Father-son banter aside, the elder Larson feels the time is right for a brand new Greeley restaurant. “We’ve got vaccines, it’s been a long year of COVID, social unrest and political dissension. But I feel there’s a strong sense of hopefulness in Greeley and Weld County — and the world. Greeley hasn’t had a local sports bar since Jackson’s All American Grill, [which closed in 2010 after an 18 year run]. The G.O.A.T. has local roots, will support local teams, and local causes.”

Matt Larson has been a stickler for playing by the pandemic rules — in this case, Colorado state health guidelines. He’s had good response from patrons who appreciate the level of concern Kenny’s Steak House has for its employees and the general public. 

“I think the governor has certain powers and he’s exercising them for public safety. I wish we had been open [during the Level Red period], I think the way most restaurants with social distancing, tables six feet apart, the extra level of sanitation, single use items, I felt people were pretty safe when they came here to eat, and I’m disappointed that restaurants are getting the brunt of this. But I’m not willing to risk my business licenses to defy a state order,” Larson said.

For that reason, opening day will have to wait until indoor dining is permitted. Larson plans for a soft opening in early February.

The GOAT sports bar
Thirty-six TV’s, two windowed garage-style doors, and large patio with fire pit offer seating options at The G.O.A.T. (Photo: Emily Kemme)

The Larsons and silent partner Travis Gillmore drew inspiration from Barleymash, a sports bar in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. Using that as a reference, their architect gave the restaurant an industrial feel, pairing brick walls, reclaimed barn wood, exposed metal, and concrete floors. The wood comes from Larson’s Aunt and Uncle’s Nebraska barn. The Larsons — along with Matt’s wife Leona and one of the investors, spent a day stripping the wood off the old barn. You’ll see it in the wood beams, structural support columns, and other spots. A patio with fire pit, two garage doors — one hits the ground to allow them to keep it open on nice days — rounds it out, along with all those TV’s. 

“Anywhere patrons sit they’ll be able to see multiple TV’s,” Larson said.

The GOAT sports bar
The full bar offers top shelf liquors with high end bourbon, whiskies, mashes, and ryes as a focal point, complementing the sports bar aura. (Photo: Emily Kemme)

The menu will be different from Kenny’s while retaining the quality they’re known for. Some of the appetizers are unique in Colorado, like the Wisconsin cheese curds and pretzel bites to dip in beer cheese served in cast iron skillets. Wings, burgers, and sandwiches round out the pub-style grub. Five different salads add a healthy element, while there are also traditional comfort food entrées like chicken fried steak or chicken, and ribs.

A full bar features signature cocktails and 20 beers on rotating tap, with all the regulars alongside West Coast IPA’s and local craft beer. Top shelf liquor complements the sports bar aura, particularly upper level bourbon, whiskies, mashes, and ryes.

It remains to be seen if Larson is stubborn as a goat to get The G.O.A.T.’s doors open. But as his years in the restaurant industry attest, what his son Alex claims about him most likely rings true.

TO GO: Opening Winter 2021

2514 46th Avenue, Greeley 80634

For info contact info@thegoatsportsbar.com

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