Zig and Mac’s develops winning formula in former Tanner’s location

They say the third time’s the charm.

And maybe that will be the case with the latest sports bar-and-restaurant incarnation of a 5,900-square-foot space located in the shopping center at Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive.

The site – 1540 Wakarusa Drive, Suite L – previously housed Tanner’s Bar & Grill, first owned by former Kansas University assistant football coach Tom Hayes, who later sold it to another group that failed to make it succeed.

Now the space is home to Zig and Mac’s Bar & Grill, which opened in October. It’s owned by Lawrence business partners Brad Ziegler and Tim Stultz, who have plenty of experience in the hospitality field.

Ziegler owns three Lawrence bars: Louise’s Downtown, Louise’s West and the Eighth Street Taproom. He and Doug Holiday, former general manager of the now-closed Hereford House, also own Bigg’s Bar & Grill, 2429 Iowa.

Ziegler founded and later shed his interests in two other food-and-drink establishments on Wakarusa Drive: JB Stout’s Bar & Grill and Marisco’s Pasta & Seafood.

Ziegler and Stultz – who owns Highland Construction in Lawrence – were business partners in a Zig and Mac’s location in Shawnee, but they closed it in December.

The Lawrence Zig and Mac’s isn’t just a continuation of Tanner’s under a new name, Ziegler said.

“I would hope that people who might have had a bad experience when it was Tanner’s would give us a chance. It’s definitely a different look and feel, a different quality of food,” he said.

Ziegler and Stultz have invested tens of thousands of dollars in renovating the space and installing a bevy of plasma-screen TVs around the bar and restaurant.

There are a total of 29 screens to watch all the action – including a 27-inch TV in the men’s restroom, so that customers don’t have to miss a single play.

“For sports viewing, it’s the first place that I’ve owned where every television is high-definition. People are starting to expect that (in sports bars). I wish I had it at home,” Ziegler said, laughing.

Zig and Mac’s will distinguish itself from its bar-and-grill competitors by trying to offer better food and service, Ziegler said.

“I think our main niche is offering a nice place to take your family that’s close to your home (on Lawrence’s west side). We’re locally owned, and we do offer outdoor dining (on a patio area), weather permitting. There’s a little bar out there, and we plan to do some outdoor cookouts this summer, bar service on the patio.”

He said the location of the business appealed to the partners.

“There are a large number of houses and apartments in the area. And we’re looking forward to the opening of Bella Sera,” Ziegler said, referring to the high-rise condominium project under way nearby.

He describes his vision of a successful Zig and Mac’s.

“I think building a loyal clientele and familiar faces : and we’re building that every day. We have a great group of people who come in on a regular basis, three to five times a week, for lunch,” Ziegler said. “We’re also building our 5 o’clock after-work crowd.”

In addition, Zig and Mac’s recently started offering breakfast from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays. That’s proved to be popular with parishioners looking for a place to eat after the 11 a.m. Mass at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, 6001 Bob Billings Parkway.

Lunch and dinner business has been slowly increasing each week since Zig and Mac’s opened, said Scott McDonald, general manager.

Weekends have been good, too, but the establishment really fills up on KU game days, when college students and older adults pack Zig and Mac’s to watch the home team and down a few beers.

“It’s standing room only,” said McDonald, who oversees a staff of 65 employees, including more than 30 servers.

He described Zig and Mac’s as a “comfortable, upscale neighborhood bar and grill” with a solid menu featuring such touches as prime rib on Saturday nights, made-from-scratch fried chicken and a variety of fresh salads.

“This is full-on, family dining,” McDonald said.