Johnny Utah's Brings Bull-Riding Western Fun To South Norwalk

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The former dance floor of the old Black Bear Saloon in South Norwalk will soon be home to Johnny Utah's signature mechanical bull.
The former dance floor of the old Black Bear Saloon in South Norwalk will soon be home to Johnny Utah's signature mechanical bull. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue
Johnny Utah's will celebrate the opening of its new location on Water Street in Norwalk with a weekend of events beginning Thursday, May 1.
Johnny Utah's will celebrate the opening of its new location on Water Street in Norwalk with a weekend of events beginning Thursday, May 1. Photo Credit: Casey Donahue

NORWALK, Conn. -- The site of the former Black Bear Saloon in South Norwalk will look very different when it reopens as Johnny Utah's on May 1.

This will be the third Johnny Utah's location, joining the first two in New York and Philadelphia. It is a country-themed bar with a mechanical bull, barbecue and Southwestern cuisine, a collection of more than 40 beers; and drinks served in signature 42-ounce boot-shaped mugs.

"Country music has become a lot more mainstream," said Gina Groh, the national sales and marketing director for East Coast Saloons, which owns Johnny Utah's. She said Johnny Utah's will provide an atmosphere that is unique to the area, and is hoping to draw visitors from across the state. "Hopefully we'll become a real staple of the nightlife."

The mechanical bull will likely be the main attraction, Groh said. The bull will be encased in an 18-foot ring and will be free to ride whenever Johnny Utah's is open. She said it is one of the elements that sets the location apart from what it used to be.

"It's completely different, even from the look of the place," said Groh. "We're changing the vibe of the entire place. We want to create a place that's fun, welcoming and has a Southern hospitality feel."

The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner, and will feature barbecue and Southern-style choices such as ribs, pulled pork, hush puppies and cornbread.

"We're pretty unique with our menu. Everything is handmade, and we'll be smoking our own meats here. Not a lot of places do that."

The opening weekend festivities will kick off Thursday, May 1, with a sneak peek at 8 p.m. The official grand opening will be Friday, May 2, which will feature a live broadcast from 5 to 7 p.m. by Dan Hopkins of the country radio station Kicks 105.5. There will also be rodeo clowns, the Naked Cowboy from Times Square and line dancing led by Cowboy Ron from 8 to 9 p.m. On Saturday, May 3, Johnny Utah's will host a fund-raiser Rides for a Cause from 7 to 9 p.m. to raise money for Bully Breeds Rescue. At 9 p.m. there will be a chance to win tickets to the Taste of Country Music Festival.

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South Norwalk is already the wild west due to the failures of the Norwalk Police Department to prevent or solve crime

This is great news,now that Wall st has taken the lead in bar fights and assaults South Norwalk has its chance to take back the lead.The Wall st planning group needs to look at what its promoting after last weekend.If South Norwalk intends to create another bar scene maybe a triage unit and sub police station would help win the welcome spirit back to Johnny's.

People who are trying to turn a profit on Wall st should video the night life this last weekend brought in police from all over the city to restore law and order.This was probably one reason to abandon South Norwalk the bars closed leaving the bulk of trouble to Wall st.

Read the policy of Johnny's not your typical family dive now is it?Children are expelled after 9,larger beer glasses and shots are prized just what Norwalk needed.

Wall st this last weekend brought a cost to running the city and the taxpayers paid a great deal.