LJ's Sports Tavern & Grill opened Thursday in the Galaxie building.


An upscale sports bar from the son of the Esquire Club's owner opened Thursday on East Washington Avenue, just in time for two Badgers NCAA tournament games as well as St. Patrick's Day.

"We had a really good crowd. It filled up and everybody was having a really good time. It was awesome," said John Kavanaugh, who goes by Little John, the initials behind the new LJ's Sports Tavern & Grill.

The bar and grill at 8 N. Paterson St., on the ground floor of the 14-story Galaxie building, was almost at its 160-capacity Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, Kavanaugh said. "We couldn't have done much better."

Kavanaugh, who owns the business with his wife, Sarah Kavanaugh, and Jim and Patricia Kinney, said that opening just in time for March Madness wasn't the original plan. They had hoped to be open by the beginning of the year. "That's just how it worked out," he said.

The menu includes appetizers like spicy cheese bread and "pork wings"; sandwiches; burgers; wraps; and salads. A Friday fish fry, modeled after the famous one at the Esquire Club, features both ocean and lake perch, as well as Icelandic cod.  

The response to the menu has been positive, Kavanaugh said. "The kitchen's been knocking it out. The food's coming out fast and good and everybody's enjoying it."

LJ's has free parking in the ramp on the second and third floors of the building. Customers can take an elevator down to the bar's back door. 

Read more restaurant news at go.madison.com/restaurantnews.


Wisconsin State Journal food writer Samara Kalk Derby brings you the latest news on the Madison area's eclectic restaurant scene.