Gopher's Grill (web)

Gopher’s Grill will be opening in Downtown Effingham. It will be a restaurant, plus there will be golf simulators, arcade games and pool tables. Aaron Niebrugge, Nick Schuette and Kevin Hoene are the owners.

News Report Staff

When it comes to characters in golfing movies, one iconic critter always pops up.

The gopher from Caddyshack has become synonymous with the popular golf movie and always gets a chuckle from golfers, as they recall the rodent terrorizing the fairways of Bushwood Country Club.

So, when Nick Schuette, Kevin Hoene and Aaron Niebrugge were brainstorming names for their bar and grill — that’s main feature will be golf simulators — they decided Gopher’s Grill was the perfect fit.

“We threw a ton of ideas out there, but we wanted to tie into the golf-themed aspect of the business. So, since probably the most recognized golf-themed movie is Caddyshack, we decided on a gopher,” said Schuette.

The gopher is painted on the front and the back of their building, as part of their logo, which also promises “Play, Pub & Grub.”

According to Schuette, the bar and grill will focus around gaming, which will include three golf simulators, an arcade, pool tables and more. There also will be a party room that seats around 50 people.

What is expected to be the most popular feature are the three golf simulators. Each features over 80 golf courses, and users can gather in small areas with seating to participate in the game.

Arcade games, which will be located on the upper floor overlooking the dining area, will include ski ball, hoop shoots, crane games, driving games and more.

“We thought it would be really cool to do this in Effingham,” said Schuette. “We thought this would go over great in this community, and it would give kids of all ages and adults something to do.

“It will give you the opportunity to have entertainment outside of just dinner,” he added.

Schuette says he always hear that there is nothing to do in Effingham, so he hopes this will fill a void for residents who are looking for a fun, family atmosphere.

“Even with as many restaurants that we have by the interstate, there is still the thought that there are not enough places for locals to eat. So, when they called me about the golf-simulator bar and grill idea, I thought it would be a great fit,” said Schuette.

But, the games are not the only thing that Schuette thinks will attract customers.

“We will have a full restaurant and a full bar, and we will serve upscale pub foods, along with steaks and pastas,” said Schuette. “We are going to offer quality ingredients at affordable prices.”

Schuette said prices for lunch items will range from $7 to $12, with dinner entrees priced under $25.

One of the most interesting aspects of the business for many locals is the location and the history of the building.

At one time, the building was an opera house that provided seating for over 650. Then over the years, the building had been used as retail space, then most recently a gym.

When the owners of the Gopher’s Grill decided on the building, they committed to renovating not only the inside of the building, but also the exterior to return it to its former glory, when it was a symbol of pride and a gathering place for the community.

Renovations included removing the “Jansen’s” sign, along with the exterior panels, to uncover the brick, windows, and most recognizably, the half-circle windows on the third floor of the building.

The City of Effingham’s Downtown Rehabilitation program made it feasible for the exterior improvements to be made and the historic building revitalized.

“The program made it feasible for us to do the facade work. It is really beneficial and was definitely enticing for business owners,” said Schuette. “If you look downtown, the facades of all the buildings have been greatly improved since that program began.”

When considering locations for the business, Schuette said the building was very appealing because not only of its history, but because of its location in Downtown Effingham, which has made the change over the past decade to a shopping and dining destination for locals.

“I love the idea of being downtown,” said Schuette. “With the wine shop and the brew pub opening up, along with what we have going on here, I think it is going to be really exciting for the downtown area.”

Although an opening date has not yet been set, Schuette said he hopes to be open and ready in the next month.

“We have quite a bit to do yet, but it should come together fairly quickly,” said Schuette. “We want to make sure we start strong.”

To check in for updates on Gopher’s Grill, visit their website at or find them on Facebook at Gopher’s Grill.