Kraus reopens Office Lounge in Monticello

The Office Lounge bar opened its doors to customers on Nov. 1. Owned by Joan Kraus, the establishment hopes to bring back some local nostalgia. Aside from various establishments through the years, the building was originally a princess theater. (Photo by Kim Brooks)

Walking into the Office Lounge, the raised seating area under the large window still remains. Patrons are also encouraged to bring in their own food or have it delivered while enjoying the atmosphere inside the Office Lounge. (Photo submitted)
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     A piece of local history is seeing customers again.

     The Office Lounge bar recently opened again for business thanks to the efforts of Joan Kraus of Monticello.

     On Nov. 1, Kraus opened for business, giving the community a glimpse into its past.

     The building that houses the Office Lounge was actually built as a Princess Theater. In fact, Kraus located still-preserved movie posters in the basement of the facility when cleaning it out. They are now framed and proudly displayed on the wall.

     After the theater closed, the building was turned into a bar known as the Glass Tap. From there, it changed to Office Lounge, and finally Sports Page when it closed for good a few years ago.

     “My brother Jim always said I would own this place some day,” joked Kraus.

     After taking ownership in September, Kraus was able to seek the help of her family and friends to help clean up the building and turn it around.

     “I wanted a nice place for people to have a drink,” Kraus said, plain and simple. She said the nostalgia of the place has brought people in to check it out.

     Before she could open, Kraus had new electrical lines installed, updated the plumbing, and strip and repaint the walls.

     “It was totally gutted,” she said. “It was not in good shape.”

     She said once the crews started really working at it, the place was in pristine condition within five weeks.

     The original Office Lounge neon sign was also located and is now proudly displayed inside the large window overlooking W. First Street.

     “I just really wanted to get this place back open because it sat closed for so long,” Kraus said of the timeframe. “And we had plenty of helping hands who were on board with me.”

     Aside from the Kraus family and extended family friends, Kraus also had Monticello resident Larry Kinley build her a new bar and back bar. Her nephew Bryce Cox also painted an outline of the State of Iowa, honoring the three top universities: Iowa State, University of Iowa, and University of Northern Iowa.

     Cox will return Thanksgiving weekend to paint a Chicago Cubs mural on the wall near the front door. Kraus encourages people to stop in and watch an artist at work.

     The Office Lounge offers customers a varied selection of beer, wine and mixed drinks. What distinguishes the establishment apart from other bars in the area is the patrons are welcome to bring their own carry-out food or have food delivered to the Office Lounge. Kraus said she does not plan to serve food. She has an extensive collection of order-in menus customers can use to order food while enjoying beverages at the Office.

     After hearing of other bars in neighboring counties who had the same procedure, Kraus said she thought it was a great idea.

     “You bring in your food and I’ll clean up the mess,” she offered.

     With such rich history, Kraus said it’s nice to offer something to the community that many people still recall visiting in their younger days.

     “I used to come here with my siblings and friends,” said Kraus. “I wanted to bring back that history.”

     Since opening her doors, Kraus said she’s heard nothing but positive comments.

     “I’m bringing in an older generation, and people I never thought would come into a bar,” she said of the community support. She’s even seen some familiar faces from her time running PrairieMoon bar & Grill in Prairieburg.

     The Office Lounge is open Tuesday through Friday from 2 p.m. to close and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to close. Kraus is closed on Monday. It’s located at 105 W. First St. in downtown Monticello.


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