Panic Bar closes after almost 40 years in Lincoln

Longtime bar closes, reopening as coffee shop
Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 9:30 PM CST
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Bars and restaurants have been dealing with regulations and restrictions for eight months now. Some are able to weather the storm while others have to close their doors for good.

Nestled on the corner of 18th Street and N Street is the Panic Bar. It’s been there since the 1980s.

“My late wife Kelly Erisman started the place in 1982,” said Kara Kugler-Wright, Panic Bar owner,” She bought into the bar business at age 19, and had it until she passed away four years ago.”

Panic Bar was known as a safe place for the LGBTQA community.

“It’s more than just a bar,” said Kugler-Wright. “It’s been a safe place for people to convene, to make friendships.. to feel like they can be themselves in a time when we weren’t accepted.”

Kara Kugler-Wright was forced to close in March because of the pandemic. Now, due to financial reasons she’s closing the Panic doors for good.

“We thought we were just closing temporarily, but here we are ending the era of the Panic,” said Kugler-Wright.

As one business closes another opens. Mo Java Company is taking over the space for their second coffee shop location. It’s going to be called “The Filling Station” which Kugler-Wright said is fitting because this building used to be a gas station in the 1950s.

“We’re honored to be able to take over this space that meant so much to so many people including Kara and her late wife,” said Paul Marshall, Mo Java Inc. President.

After almost 40 years as a bar, it’s not the closure Kugler-Wright expected, but she’s excited for the transition to The Filling Station.

“I hope that they come in and support Paul and support this new coffee shop,” said Kugler-Wright. ”I hope that they’ll continue to hold onto the friendships that they’ve built through here.”

The coffee shop is expected to open in February.

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