Belmont

The Belmont Casino Bar and Grill that closed in downtown Fort Atkinson this fall is still for sale after no bids came in to match the set price during a public auction sale Tuesday.

After undergoing “top-to-bottom” renovations, the former Belmont Casino in Fort Atkinson will reopen as a bar and grill named Tavern on Rock.

The new owners of the former West Sherman Avenue bar were at the Fort Atkinson City Council’s Tuesday meeting to present their plans and be issued their liquor license.

Arben Useni, a representative from the restaurant group Arbenbekim LLC, said the space will remain a bar and grill, except now it will be named Tavern on Rock. He added the building needs a “top-to-bottom” renovation.

“It needs a lot of good elbow grease and cosmetic repairs,” Useni told the council.

Useni said the food menu will be updated to include some of his specialties. He said his parents were in the restaurant business, and he also owns the Citrus Cafe and Whiskey Ranch Bar and Grill in the Janesville area.

The council voted unanimously to pass the Belmont’s liquor license on to Useni. While the license includes the Belmont’s drive-through window, Useni said he doesn’t expect to use the window immediately, but might consider it at some point.

After the council voted on the license, Useni said he hopes the bar and the city can work together in the future.

“Hopefully, we have a good relationship with the city,” Useni said.

Useni purchased the building at an Internal Revenue Service auction in November for $153,000.

The Belmont Bar and Grill at 29 W. Sherman Ave. had been a staple in downtown Fort Atkinson for decades. The building has a restaurant, drive-through window and a one-bedroom studio apartment on the second floor. The adjoining parking area was included in the sale.

The property’s former owner, Richard Halverson, faced a lawsuit in federal court in August 2016 for unpaid taxes dating back to 1998. Halverson eventually filed taxes for the years 1998-2004 and 2006-11. The filing also showed unpaid taxes due. The outstanding tax liability was approximately $199,000.

The target opening date for Tavern on Rock is mid-March, about one week before St. Patrick’s day, according to Useni. But, he said, there a lot of renovations to make that might delay that date.

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