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Serving the Loup Valley for 140 Years

Saddle Up Saloon Opens In Comstock

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Dan Denson, Manager of Saddle Up Saloon in Comstock, is looking forward to providing an old west saloon-type atmosphere in his new establishment.

By Kate Wolf
   It’s always encouraging when a new business opens in a small rural community.  It’s a sign of hope, prosperity, and belief in the future….that every business will still be there in the future.  Comstock, NE, population only 69 as of 2023 and located just over the Valley-Custer County line, has a rich history from the long ago days of cowboys and outlaws, cattle drives, the fight over open ranges, prosperous cattle barons, and railroad access needed to get livestock to market.  The new Saddle Up Saloon in Comstock honors that heritage and the building, located on Main Street near the park, has been remodeled to reflect its country western image.
   The business, owned by former rodeo bronc rider, Randy Cherry of Sargent, is managed by Dan Denson and his wife, Lorie, who live in Comstock.  She works right alongside him at every task that needs to be done.
   Randy Cherry and Dan Denson have been friends “for years and years,” Denson explained.  He had been a farmer almost his entire life with extensive experience in food service and hospitality ever since the early 1990s.  He recently retired to pursue the new adventure of managing Saddle Up Saloon for his friend Randy.  “We decided to put all our eggs in this basket,” he added.  “We’re not getting any younger.”
   Denson has deep ties to the area.  His parents, Dave and Jeanette Denson, are from Broken Bow and his mother owns Custer Care Center.  Brother, Jeff is a partner in Team Physical Therapy and his sister, Jodi, is Manager of Tractor Supply in Ord.
   Construction on the old building that would house Saddle Up Saloon began last August.  
   “It was just a shell of a building when we started,” Denson continued.  “It had been empty for five years.”  The building has since been given new life and first opened in March of 2024 while work continued.  Now, the floors gleam while still retaining the old historic feel of aged wood, the large coolers have been disguised to look barn-like, and the original antique, pressed tin ceiling is in pristine condition.
   One wall of Saddle Up Saloon will be dedicated to area high school sports teams with mounted football helmets surrounding a large screen where customers can watch their favorite sports events.  The rest of the saloon will be decorated with a cowboy/country aesthetic.
   As manager, Denson strives to re-create the image of an historic, old-time saloon keeper, focused on his customers, visiting with them, or lending a sympathetic ear when needed.  Kayla (Jegstrup) Welton, formerly of Taylor, NE but who now lives in Ord, will also be helping to tend bar.  There will be no need to fight for the attention of your bar-keep or waitress; distractions such as cell phones or i-Pad screens will remain out of sight while customers are waiting to be served.  Customer service is one of Denson's top priorities.
     In addition to the standard saloon-type beverages, (“No foo-foo drinks in here!” Denson commented), their own signature Bloody Mary is on the beverage menu, which is quite a production to watch in its creation.  There are also old favorites that are difficult to find these days such as Hamm’s, Keystone Light and Pabst Blue Ribbon.
     “We don’t do specials because we have specials all day every day and free popcorn all night long,” Denson continued.  
   In line with “keeping it simple,” they also serve food such as Bronc Burgers with sides, Buck n’ Three Meat personal pan pizzas, and a taco bar on Thursdays.  All meals are served with their signature Cowboy Candy, a candied jalapeno relish made locally that has just enough sweetness to offset the heat with each delicious bite.  All supplies for the saloon are purchased locally.
   “We’re deciding on new menu items all the time,” Denson added.  “We’re working on a signature steak for this fall.  When we have big events, we also have breakfast burritos at the end of the night before customers leave.” Karaoke and polka music will alternate each month, as well as smaller entertainment venues such as one-man-bands.
   A Grand Opening is planned June 29 beginning at 5 p.m. Three Guys Polka Band will begin playing at 7 p.m.  There will be free brisket sliders until supplies run out and drawings for special prizes such as koozies.  If you happen to win one, hang onto it….the first beer is free as long as you own the koozie and bring it with you.  Try finding a deal like that anywhere else!
   Dan and Lorie Denson have six children and 10 grandchildren with two more on the way.  Clearly they have the necessary skills to handle large crowds with urgent demands.  
   "We’re creating an atmosphere here,” Denson stated.  “You come here for the social interaction, the good food and drinks, the friendly service, and to have a great time.  We plan on making Saddle Up Saloon a destination location.”
     Saddle Up Saloon in Comstock is now open Thurs-Fri-Sat from 5 p.m.-1 a.m. and on Sundays from 3-10 p.m.  You can also follow them on Facebook for more details on upcoming events.

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