A rebirth at the outlet mall: 'The Chill' opens

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Skip and Lisa Connor have opened "The Chill Sports Bar and Grill" at the Chisholm Trail Retail and Outlet Shops, reopening a sports bar that has been shuttered for nearly 10 years.

This is the story of rebirth — not only for a long-time Newton resident, but of a storefront that was shuttered for a decade. 

Skip Connor, at the age of 66, needed something different and new. He had worked for a local manufacturer for decades — and his body was a bit unhappy. He was moved off the manufacturing floor to a desk job, and then, when COVID-19 hit and the business needed to trim, he found himself without a job at retirement age. 

"It was either start somewhere else at 66, or start a new chapter in my life," Connor said. "... This is a place, like the name suggests, to sit back and chill." 

He and his wife chose to start writing the next chapter of their lives after 36 years of marriage. 

"I work from about 10 in the morning until about midnight," Conner said. "The biggest thing right now is we are having trouble finding people to work. It is tough. We get people who will do a few hours here or there, but nothing real steady. I am looking for a good cook right now."

They chose to go into business for themselves, launching "The Chill" Sports Bar and Grill about a month ago at Chisholm Trail Retail and Outlet Shops. They entered a storefront that was a sports bar a decade ago. 

"A lot of the stuff was already here, that made it more tempting," Connor said. "So many people want a place that they can get a good steak here in town, and I will do that as soon as I get the right cook. I like sports, love pool and have shot pool most of my life. We thought we would give this a shot."

The dream is to become a place known for its food and atmosphere, a spot where someone can get a steak dinner with friends and family. Right now the menu is made up of appetizers, hot dogs, soup, salad and hamburgers.

Right now the pride and joy on the menu is the Jalapeno Popper Burger — a recipe that comes straight out of  Lisa's mind.  

"We make jalapeno poppers at home, I like them during football games," Skip said. "Ours are different that a lot of other people's. She put that on a burger, and it is absolutely delicious."

The menu, both food and drinks, features locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. There's a locally brewed beer on tap. and a locally produced wine. Plans for sourcing beef and other ingredients locally are in the works. 

"Our goal is to provide as much local as we can," Skip said.