RACINE — After nearly 26 years in business, Rick Smetana has decided to close his Downtown bar, Ricky’s Place.

It will be replaced by a country-western bar.

The last day of business for Ricky’s, 236 Main St., will be March 30. Smetana said his chief reason for closing the bar is the need to tend to his other business enterprise, Richard’s Bar & BBQ. He opened that establishment, at 3458 Rapids Drive, in September.

“It’s taking 99 percent of my time,” Smetana said. “I had hoped to do both; I knew it would be tough.”

“I want everything associated with me to be just as I have run it the last 26 years,” Smetana said. “Not being (at Ricky’s), it’s tough to do that.”

He added, “If I can’t put out the best product, I don’t want to give 50 percent — or, in this case, 10 percent.”

From the start and through the years, Ricky’s was a magnet for police officers and other law enforcement personnel. Smetana’s brother Dave Smetana was a Racine Police officer and is now Pleasant Prairie’s police chief.

Rick said he also has “numerous” nephews who are on the Racine Police, Mount Pleasant Police and Kenosha County Sheriff’s departments.

“And countless friends that I had prior to Ricky’s and at Ricky’s who are police officers,” he added. “They would bring their coworkers and friends. I was very proud to say it was a place that law enforcement (personnel) would come in and feel at home, feel relaxed.”

“It’s unfortunate that some things come to an end,” Smetana said, “but everything does.”

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In with the new

Smetana, who owns the building that houses Ricky’s Place, has already found a commercial tenant and replacement business. Marci Bruley will do renovations and open Marci’s on Main as a country-western bar.

Bruley, now 44, has been in the tavern business since she was 18 — coincidentally, the same number of years that Ricky’s has been in business. That time included close to five years as the manager at Michigan’s Pub, 1300 Michigan Blvd. She is currently a bartender at Joey’s on Lathrop, 2054 Lathrop Ave.

Bruley said she decided upon a country-western theme because she thinks it’s an unfilled niche. “I’ve had great feedback,” she said.

She said the jukebox will have mostly country-western music, although not exclusively. Bruley also hopes to occasionally bring in live musical performers.

Bruley plans to redecorate the bar, which she hopes can be done in about two to three weeks, and then open in April.

Executive Director Kelly Kruse of Downtown Racine Corp. said of Smetana’s decision to close Ricky’s: “Although it is always sad to see a long-running business close, it is very exciting that we have a new country music-themed atmosphere to experience. This will be a great complement to the vibrant and diverse nightlife already well established in Downtown.

“According to the Country Music Association, 40 percent of people polled like country music and this is something we don’t currently have, so it will be a lot of fun for our residents and visitors to experience this new venue.

“We certainly wish Richard Smetana much success in his new ventures.”

“It’s unfortunate that some things come to an end, but everything does.” Rick Smetana, proprietor of Ricky’s Place

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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