South City Sports Bar is slated to open in July in former home of Cotter's Sports Bar

Randy Heisner and Chuck Powers, who hope to open a new bar on South Kingshighway in a few months, have the perfect origin story for two would-be saloon keepers: For 20 years, they hung out together at the bar that used to be located on site.

For pretty much their entire friendship, the bar was Cotter's Sports Bar, a low-key St. Louis neighborhood spot at 4610 S. Kingshighway Blvd. in Bevo Mill. As Heisner tells it, during the pandemic, the bar's longtime owner sold it, but the new owner wasn't able to make it work. The regulars were disgruntled, and then sad, as the place closed entirely.

Now Heisner and Powers are bringing new life to the small, standalone space, which they are preparing to open as South City Sports Bar. "We bought the building, and we're putting our all into it," Heisner says.

Heisner is a former manager of Molly's in Soulard, and he says Powers also has extensive bar experience through his girlfriend, who owns a different bar in Soulard. They're working on a full remodel of the place, adding new tables, new bar stools and two pool tables. They're planning no fewer than 13 TVs (two 75 inchers, two 65 inchers and nine 55 inchers, Heisner says) and have ordered streaming services for all the major sports, including City SC.

Crucially, they're also giving the place a good deep cleaning. "Cotter's had one pool table and didn't have much else going on there," Heisner says. "We've got a new floor, drywall. It's all freshly painted. It's all nice and clean. It's never been clean in that place!"

But while it should be significantly cleaner than in its heyday, the duo hopes to keep the friendly spirit that animated Cotter's. "It was like Cheers," Heisner recalls. "Everybody knew your name. Nobody let you drive drunk. People looked out for each other. We want to make it a family bar again."

They plan minimal food, probably just frozen pizza and popcorn, with Heisner noting that there's a White Castle on one side of the building and a McDonald's on the other: "If they get hungry, they can go there." He also notes the surprisingly big patio out back, which can seat 40 to 50 patrons, and the fact they plan to open at 7 a.m. to serve workers coming off the night shift.

But perhaps the most inspired part of the fledgling enterprise is its name: simple and completely on point. "I was really shocked South City Sports Bar was available," Heisner says. "If you Google us, hopefully you'll find us right away."

The duo hopes to be ready for a soft opening in July, depending on the vagaries of the liquor license process.