After nearly two years of vacancy for the old Ward’s restaurant building, a new family has come into town, hoping to restore the locale’s former glory with their own twist. The new facility, to be called Paris Sports Bar and Grill after the original name of the restaurant, will feature an open concept and a family friendly location to watch sports games.
The new location will replace Ward’s, which remained closed since an electrical fire caused significant damage to the building in August 2019. The new owners, however, have already created a plan to repair, restore and remodel the old building.
The tentative day of opening is scheduled for Oct. 1, and those looking for the old Ward’s might get a bit of a shock when they walk in for the first time.
“100% brand new. It will be an open concept. It’ll be nothing like you remember. If we had to compare it to anything, if you’re up in the Dallas area, like a Buffalo Wild Wings. It’s going to be a sports bar where it’s not just grown-ups. You’ll be able to bring your kids,” said Kelvin Pruitt, one of the new owners and managers of the property. He works alongside Jeremy and Shavoya Council, Caressha and Szcwealion Milton and Ashley Browne.
However, Pruitt, who grew up eating many of Ward’s delicious options, may keep some things the same.
“We can pull some from (the Ward’s) menu because I used to go there as a kid — I used to go there as a grownup. Yeah, I would go there late nights and get the hamburger steak with gravy on top. And we’re gonna have promotional nights where we will probably do some of that sort for sure,” he said.
Most of all though, Pruitt sees a vision of community, hoping to keep his focus on the local environment and teams.
“And you’ll see all the history of sports from Paris High to North Lamar to Hugo, Oklahoma, to Clarksville to Prairiland. We’re gonna get everyone involved, reaching out to the principals. We want to magnify something toward their mascot, so if they want to give us a name of a sandwich they want named after that particular school, we’re gonna go to the full extent to do that,” Pruitt said.
Not only will the menu feature local references, it’s also going for a sports-centric approach.
“Our concept is sports in general, so if you went to a Texas Rangers game, anything you can buy at a Texas Rangers game at a concession stand, those are the types of foods we’ll be selling,”
Though Paris Sports Bar and Grill represents Pruitt’s first time branching out on his own, he has seven years of experience in the food industry. Previously, he has worked in the food industry for the Texas Rangers minor league baseball team, the University of Colorado, the University of New Mexico and the University of Missouri.
“I have a bartending business on the side, but nothing of this magnitude. So I think it’s just gonna be good for the city. I really really do. I think it’s going to be great. You know, people come here to watch games at PJC, they travel to watch high school football, and it’s a prime location,” Pruitt said.
Pruitt also hopes the new business will bring jobs to town and give families a place to come spend time.
“We want to get it started to give people somewhere to go to watch the game. Even UFC fights. You can’t go anywhere and say, ‘hey, I want to watch the fight at this sports bar.’ You can go to a bar, but you can’t take your kids. Our vision is to keep the building full, make as many people happy as we can, and just have fun with it and learn as we go,” Pruitt said.