TOPEKA (KSNT) – Topeka’s premier country bar is set to open its doors again later this year with some new changes.
KSNT 27 News went inside Wild Horse Saloon to get a sneak peek of what’s been happening with the night club since it closed in March. The new owner, Julie Castaneda, was on hand to give a preview of what the saloon will look like when it’s ready to open and talk about what she’s completed so far. Castaneda is renting the saloon on a month-to-month basis.
“I base everything off of, ‘how much does it cost?’ and ‘can I take it with me when I go?’ because, again, we don’t know how long we’re gonna be here,” Castaneda said. “Right now, everything except the paint can come with me.”
Part of the new renovations includes a new coat of paint for the interior in colors of black and red. Castaneda said she doesn’t plan on doing anything permanent to the building itself aside from repairing the leaky roof.
“Now we can have thunderstorms and it’s not raining on the inside,” Castaneda said.
The back patio, formerly the smoking area of the saloon, is also set for overhaul. Castaneda said she has been spending her time recently finding new outdoor furniture for the area.
“The message I got, I’m big on customer service, so when I walked out the first time I thought the message here is, ‘you smoke, we don’t like you, go outside,'” Castaneda said. “I want a patio area. Not really a lot of reno can be done. It’s an asphalt parking lot, but we’re playing with ideas about laying down some indoor/outdoor carpet.”
For those afraid the name of the saloon will be changing, there’s no cause for concern. Wild Horse Saloon will stick with the property under Castaneda. Though, she plans to lean more into the horse aspect of the name with the addition of new decor like a corral rail around the dance area and the use of authentic barn wood.
“I’ve just been treated so well,” Castaneda said. “It makes me more passionate about really trying to accomplish it because the whole community has been fantastic. The landlord here has been fantastic. The Wild Horse guy has been fantastic and Topeka has just stood up and said, ‘if you open the doors, we’ll come.'”
Castaneda said the saloon will continue to play country music and even offer dance lessons for those interested in joining a line dance routine. She said they’ll also play other genres like ’80s and ’90s tunes, R&B along with themed music nights.
She plans to bring in more seating, too. Castaneda said one of the common complaints she heard was about the former layout was a lack of seating. The game area will also get a facelift with the addition of pinball games, a game called ‘Dragon Ascent’ and revamped pool tables.
“Anybody who knows me knows that I don’t do specific anything. I let the story unfold. I don’t try to push things — make things happen,” Castaneda said. “I find that everything just works out for me and I just sort of roll with it. Right now, I have a loose timeline of opening… having a soft opening the week of May 22 rolling into Memorial Day then kicking off our real open that first weekend in June.”
Castaneda said she plans to lean more into the country aspects of the bar and help it find its footing.
“It’s going to be a rodeo bar,” Castaneda said. “It’s going to be a cowboy bar. I’m a cowgirl, I’m a barrel racer, I race horses. It’s gonna have saddles, it’s gonna have pictures and photos.”
As an animal advocate, Castaneda said she plans to add authentic photos of wild horses around the saloon and donate part of the proceeds to different wild horse rescue operations.
“People need to know that America’s wild horses are fighting for their lives,” Castaneda said.
Other big changes to the saloon will be a shift in hours. Castaneda said the saloon could open as early as 6 p.m. with a dance party starting at 9 p.m. Food will also be handy, like pretzels, peanuts and chips and queso, through caterers and food trucks. Cover charges for the saloon will be set higher at $10 per person starting at 9 p.m. every night.
“I don’t want you to come out here and just drink,” Castaneda said. “I want you to come and have an experience with us. I want you to leave here telling your friends, ‘that place is different and its fun.'”
You can follow the Wild Horse’s progress online by checking out the saloon’s Facebook page. The saloon is located at at 3249 Southwest Topeka Blvd.