Ogallala's Front Street along U.S. Highway 30
OGALLALA - The media hype and an extensive advertising campaign filled the Crystal Palace Saloon with onlookers Monday morning for the auction of Front Street, a major tourist draw at Ogallala. Yet, no bids were cast and the business was a “no sale.” Schow Realty Auctioneer Kyle Schow said he knew it was a great possibility that there’d be no interest.
“But, it is disappointing,” Schow said.
Front Street, which opened in 1963, has been a mainstay in Ogallala’s tourism since inception.
One of the five original partners in the business, Darlan “Doc” Rezac and his wife, Jeannie, took over the business operations seven years ago.
Now, the couple is looking to retire.
“Unfortunately, when you get to 80, you have to make decisions that you wouldn’t consider making when you were 50,” Doc Rezac told the audience of 60-plus people that filled the Crystal Palace Saloon. “We just want to keep everything going on.”
After more than 15 minutes of terms and conditions, Schow began the auction.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you tell me. All right, here we go. Somebody bid $750,000,” Schow said.
The amount quickly lowered to $500,000, and shortly after, dipped to $250,000.
“I hate to get any cheaper than that,” Schow said.
Schow said the tax-assessed value of the property is $470,000 and that assessment is just for the real estate and none of the contents. After lowering the opening bid to $200,000 “and no cheaper,” the auction ended before it started.
“If there is no interest in the facility, I can live with that. Obviously, disappointed there was no interest, but hopefully, there will be another day,” Schow said.
The nearly 17,000-square-foot Front Street complex includes a restaurant, bar, a museum, and an upstairs room with a bar and dance floor. On the east end of the structure, which features a plank walkway from end to end, are two retail spaces, both of which are rented.
Front Street draws close to 48,000 visitors a year and its Crystal Palace Revue, a summer stage show that features local youth in song and dance, as well as a nightly “shoot out” in the parking lot, draws many of those visitors.
Schow said the historic significance of Front Street and the promotion of the “cowboy heritage” is far reaching, touching not only Ogallala and Keith County but also the entire western third of Nebraska.
“No matter where you go, people ask about and know about Front Street,” he said.
Schow said he knew there would be a great challenge in finding a buyer for the property because those interested in Front Street would have to be prepared for such an undertaking.
“We just didn’t find anyone in today’s environment to come in and spend whatever the selling price might be and work as hard as it takes to run a facility like this,” he said.
Prior to the sale, Rezac said the business probably was an integral part of Ogallala being recognized as an All-American City in 1965.
Rezac said their goal at that time, was to make Front Street the No. 1 restaurant.
“We feel we accomplished that,” he said.
Rezac said Front Street is an important part of Ogallala, and they wanted to “share that with someone who wanted to carry it on.”
“We hope somebody would enjoy carrying on the tradition,” he said.
Jeanne Rezac said although she was disappointed the business didn’t sell Monday, the plan is to have a total business auction, from the building to all associated items inside and on the property, in the spring.
“But, in the meantime, we’re just going to continue running the business. We’ve got Christmas parties booked up,” she said.
Though the business has been for sale for years, this is the first time the business has been offered for sale through auction.
Schow said he would continue to list the property for sale with Schow Realty.
Mary Pierce is the News Editor at the Keith County News. Reprinted with permission.