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Local

New owners on tap: After three generations, Cragel's changing families

Byron business partners Josiah Henson and Corbin Anderson are taking over Cragel's, the long-time watering hole at 345 Washington St. in Prophetstown.
Byron business partners Josiah Henson and Corbin Anderson are taking over Cragel's, the long-time watering hole at 345 Washington St. in Prophetstown.

PROPHETSTOWN – After 116 years in the same family, in one form or another, Cragel’s is under new ownership.

Patrons don’t need to worry, though: That family legacy is one of the things that drew new owners, Byron business partners Josiah Henson, 33, and Corbin Anderson, 48, to the sports bar at 345 Washington St.

Owners Craig and Kelly Hagel (Cragel’s, get it?) have decide that, at their ages – he’s 62, she’s 57 – it will be more fun to hang out at Cragel’s than run it.

Henson and Anderson, property managers who found the bar for sale online, will be signing the paperwork today, Henson said.

They’re keeping all the good bits: the employees, the name, the conversation-friendly rectangular bar, the live entertainment and the laid-back atmosphere.

“We really like what they’ve set up there,” Henson said. “They’ve really churched it up.”

Before it was a bar, the historic building had been a hardware store and a bowling alley.

At one time it was called Brewer’s Tap, owned by Craig’s grandfather, Buel Brewer. Craig’s father, Bill Hagel, owned it from 1949 to 1982, when it was Bill’s Place, and Craig’s sister and brother-in-law, David and Jacki Roman, owned it from 1982 to 2012; they called it Square One.

When the Hagels bought the bar from the Romans, they added four 50-inch TVs, digitized the jukebox, added live entertainment and a better sound system, and increased the number of beers on tap. They also updated the wiring, plumbing and bathrooms, and added new window seating and tile floors.

The new owners have a few plans, too. Within a year, they hope to add a restaurant, move the gaming machines to a more private area, and start a Queen of Hearts raffle, Henson said.

Henson is a former Sterling resident – he graduated from Sterling High School in 2003 – and also is co-owner of Haunted Conover Square Ghost Tours and a Byron firefighter and EMT.

He’s been shadowing the Hagels for about a month in preparation of the takeover.

The Hagels are confident that they’re leaving their beloved local bar in good hands, Kelly said.

“They’re going to do just fine.”

DROP ON BY

Cragel's is at 345 Washington St. in Prophetstown. Call 815-989-6018, go to www.cragelsbar.com or find it on Facebook for more information.

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