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Snowball's Bar under new management

The new management at Snowball's Bar in East Ellsworth has been busy making improvements and preparing for a grand re-opening this Saturday. Pictured are Luke and Angie Nelson, Jenna Strusz and Luke Fleming.

ELLSWORTH -- Six decades after being assumed by one family, the management of Snowball's Bar passed to another generation -- and added another family.

Luke Fleming and fiancée Jenna Strusz are among the latest members of the ownership team, with Fleming representing the family whose involvement in the East Ellsworth business began in the 1950s. Plus, Luke and Angie Nelson bring a second family into the management mix.

Although the men are friends with the same first name, they've managed to avoid confusion by taking roles that are mainly behind the scenes, they said.

The four officially took over the bar in September 2011 after Fleming's mother, Joanie, died. She succeeded her parents, Melvin and Velda Snow, in running the establishment in 1989.

The women handle the day-by-day duties while the men focus on maintenance and upkeep -- and the major renovations that closed the bar for the past three months.

The two Lukes are also away at other jobs a good portion of the time: Fleming operates an Original Black Pine enterprise nearby and is employed by Rice Lake Construction; Nelson works for Nelson Plumbing and is a member of the Ellsworth Fire Department.

"We decided to keep the same name," Angie Nelson said of Snowball's as a tribute to its longevity in the same family, despite some suggestions to change it.

What has changed is the interior. It's been given an Original Black Pine treatment and the owners relocated the bathrooms to increase barroom space.

The structure, dating to 1888 and considered one of the oldest in the community, has had its original ceiling restored.

"Some of our customers have been coming here for 30, 40, even 50 years," Fleming said, noting others are new ones.

A grand reopening is set for 6 p.m. Saturday.

"We want to express appreciation to all who've helped and supported us for 60 years, and hopefully will for another 60," Fleming said.