Deondre Ross and DJ Split perform to a crowd of students at the Outback, now known as Powerhouse, during the St. Patrick’s Day party March 16. The new owner got the name from the building’s history as the Maryville Power and Light Co. building. The bar is set to open Aug. 22.

A “now hiring” sign plastered to the side of the former Outback Bar’s weathered white facade keys into some of the changes taking place at one of Maryville’s most frequented college bars.

Inside, Maryville resident Aaron Jones, 43, works by the bar, paperwork scattered before him. As of June 19, he is the new owner of the bar. Renaming the bar Powerhouse is one of several changes Jones has already implemented.

This is Jones’ first time owning and running a bar, but he said he is excited and confident that the turnout will be largely the same as before, even with the changes.

“I’m not going to change a bunch of things – changing the name, upgrading the building, painting it, putting new windows in, and then keeping the rest of it the same,” Jones said. “New name, same party.”

Additionally, Jones opened up the dance floor and bar seating area, purchased new chairs and tables, removed the dancing cage, added credit card readers at the door and updated the bar and restrooms. Jones plans to add fenced-in outdoor patios off the back and side of the bar and an interactive jukebox.

Changes will also be seen among the Powerhouse staff, as Jones is working towards increasing the number of female employees.

“For me, there’s such a predominant female clientele here, I wanted them to be comfortable approaching anybody on the staff,” Jones said. “If they needed a big guy to come help them, that’s good, but if they felt like they could talk to a female a bit easier, I thought that would be a good thing to have too.”

Northwest sophomore Hannah Harvey, who frequented the bar once a week during the school year, appreciates the changes Jones is trying to implement among his staff.

“I would honestly feel more comfortable speaking to a female employee than a male employee,” Harvey said. “I also feel as if other female bar-goers would respond to there being more female employees in a good way too because it makes it an easier environment for females.”

Jones is also looking to hire back former Outback employees.

“They’ve got the experience, and I didn’t want to take anyone’s job away from them. I wanted them to all still have their jobs when school started back up,” Jones said.

Jones plans to hire other employees that were not formerly employed at Outback in order to open more nights of the week.

“I actively tried to get all of them back that I could, but I’m also hiring on additional staff too because I plan on being open Thursday, Friday and Saturday,” Jones said.

Sheneque Goldner, also known as DJ Snackpack, was the former Outback DJ for two years and has been rehired to DJ at Powerhouse. As a rehired male employee at Powerhouse, he still supports the employment of more women.

“I think it’s great. It will show more diversity and make the bar look more welcoming,” Goldner said.

Powerhouse is scheduled to open Thursday, Aug. 22. There will be no cover charges for the first opening or Friday, Aug. 23. All Thursdays after will not have cover charges until construction is fully completed.

Pricing will be readjusted after construction is finished. The grand opening is set to be held around the time of Homecoming. The hours will remain 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The venue will still be available to book for formals and private parties.

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