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Cole's jack-of-all-trades as new manager of Furlong's Grill and Saloon in Ellsworth

For a different job, the construction worker happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Shane Cole had been hired to finish the dance floor and restore some top beams at Furlong's Grill and Saloon in Ellsworth's west business district, he said Thursday. One day while Cole was working on those improvements, he was asked to fill in on the staff, as they were shorthanded.

"I told them if you show me how to run the till, I ought to be able to do it," he said.

That duty slowly led to others and, soon, the carpenter was familiar with much of the dine-and-drink operation, though he'd never before been employed in a similar capacity, he said. Shortly thereafter, Furlong's previous management decided to leave and he was approached by the building's owner about becoming the new manager.

"There I was in my paint pants, sitting down with the suits, and they wanted me," he said, noting he'd only been around a matter of months.

Reaching an arrangement, he took over as manager on a probationary basis last month. He said serving the public wasn't completely new to him because he'd worked in a grocery store as a youth. He also once managed a small hog farm, giving him some business experience.

So far, business at the bar has increased, he said. Patronage has nearly doubled for Tuesday taco and bingo nights. In fact, Tuesdays have been the busiest night of the week and Saturdays, for the weekend.

"Every day, I'm getting happier," he said.

Some improvements and changes will come later, he said. He began with three part-time employees and has convinced a couple of past staffers to return occasionally, plus is training a couple of others. The premises seats 40, including the bar, and hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, extended to 2:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Food is available from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day, he said. Reubens have been popular on the daily menu, as have shrimp dinners on Fridays. He's promoted a burger-fries-and-pop special on weekends and is considering adding hot beefs. Burgers range from the classic half-pounder to the "Brett Favre Burger," complete with two kinds of cheese, fried mushrooms and onions.

"We all do some of everything...the cooking, bartending and serving," he said.

A lot of the supplies come from Sysco, Cole said, but he's also been getting some commodities locally, such as fresh buns and vegetables from Hinck's Economart. All kinds of drinks are offered, with Bloody Marys a favorite. There's a variety of domestic and tap beers, too.

Poker and other arcade machines are in abundance for entertainment, as are features like promo tabs, he said. An ATM machine can also be accessed by customers.

Read more in the print version of the Herald July 16.