BETHANY - With new owners and the same management, the Bison Inn will reopen Saturday.
In the wake of William ''Bubba'' Reid's death on Aug. 18, the popular sports bar and restaurant closed its doors to the dismay of many Bethany students, alumni and local residents.
''When it closed, I knew the campus wasn't going to be the same,'' said junior Nick Miller. ''Everyone is happy it's reopening and now we'll have something to do on weekends.''
''The Bison Inn has been a fixture on the Bethany landscape for, literally, as long I can remember,'' said 1980 alumnus Ned Ferris. ''To me, and to other Bethanians, a bar in Bethany ... serves as a gathering place for people of all walks of life, who are connected in some way by Bethany College.
''Friendships are formed and renewed at The Bison Inn,'' he continued. ''Stories are told, and Bethany lore is passed from person to person. I, for one, am delighted the place is back in business. I wish the new owners nothing but the best, and I wish 'Bubba' eternal peace and (Janis Reid) comfort in these months following his death.''
Janis Reid, who inherited the property upon William Reid's death, sold the business Nov. 15 to Robert and Betty Duritza of Weirton for $273,120.
Robert Duritza said he had been interested in buying the bar for about seven years. When he saw the opportunity, he bought it and immediately applied for the proper permits so he could reopen it Saturday.
''I look forward to opening it up; I hear it's good stuff,'' he said. ''I think the townspeople and students are very excited.''
According to the license issued by the West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Administration, Bison Inn management will consist of Chuck Kern and Ed Brady. Kern had been an employee and manager for more than 30 years, he said.
''I spent the last 30 years running this place, and I need to keep the tradition alive until I'm ready to retire,'' Kern said. ''What would I do without the bar?''
He said some residents and college officials have told him they are thrilled to see the business reopen.
Regular customers will notice the structure and bar fixtures remain the same, but they will see some significant changes.
The opening will kick off with a few new flat-screen televisions, a large collection of new sports-related decorations covering the walls and an updated Internet jukebox.
Kern plans for some activities to change as well. Tuesdays will feature different competitive events on the bottom level, such as corn bag toss and pub darts.
Some specials, such as Wing Night on Wednesday, will be revived. Also, the restaurant menu did not change much since the closing.
The Bison Inn will open its doors at 6 p.m. Saturday and again at 6 p.m. Sunday for the AFC Championship game.
Regular business hours will be from 6 p.m. until last call at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
''I do owe a lot to 'Bubba' for teaching me everything I need to know about the business, and we will sadly miss him,'' Kern said.