New owners of Smiley’s Tavern hope for resurgence

NEW ULM – Al and Matt Kopischke, who became the new owners of Smiley’s Tavern at the start of this month, are hoping to bring renewed life to New Ulm’s last neighborhood corner tavern.

The brothers have been patrons of Smiley’s Tavern for years and wanted to see the business continue. Smiley’s is located on the corner of 5th North and State streets.

Al said the idea of taking over to keep the bar going originally started as joking around, but the idea was appealing enough that it quickly turned into something serious.

The Kopischkes said they have some experience from their grandfather running a New Ulm bar, but they are largely taking on a new endeavor. They said they want to keep the bar essentially the same, but they plan more promotions. They want it to be a distinct alternative to the collection of bars in the downtown area. They might look into renovating and upgrading the building if their plan is successful.

“We’re nervous. But, we feel we can do this,” said Al Kopischke, “We hope that we grow [this bar].”

(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at

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