Husband and wife team, Frank and Nikki Jorgenson testing their full-size pool table on Feb. 25, 2021, table one week before the opening of “They Party Barn. The business, they said, will be a safe, fun space for people of all ages to have fun at a low price point. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com
POCATELLO — For years, Frank and Nikki Jorgenson have run businesses aimed at providing aid to their Pocatello community.
Nikki breeds therapy dogs and operates Snake River Doodle’s and Friends Therapy Animals and Petting Zoo. She takes her animals to local hospitals, military establishments and nursing homes to provide comfort to those in need.
Frank owned Frank’s Handyman Service, focused on providing affordable handyman work to the elderly.
Both businesses took a hit in 2020 — Frank’s Handyman Service going under after 15 years — because of COVID-19. Snake River Doodle’s Haunted Acre was their only business venture that operated normally last year.
But with their free time this winter, Frank, 41, and Nikki, 40, had the opportunity to plot out and launch a barn-themed fun zone they have been discussing for 20 years.
“Party Barn is a place for everyone of all ages to come and be able to dance and play games together at low-cost,” Nikki said.
Frank admitted he got into some trouble in his youth, but said an outlet for those under 18 would have prevented much of it.
“Teenagers need somewhere to go to get out of their everyday rut,” he said. “Kids don’t have a place they can go to dance or have fun until they’re 18 or 21. You’re expected to not get into trouble, but have nothing to do. We’ll give you a driver’s license, but you can’t do nothing for two more years. We’re asking them to get into trouble.”
The Party Barn, located inside of the north wing of the Westwood Mall, is the Jorgensons’ attempt to provide that outlet to area youths.
With video games, board games, darts, pool, ping pong, foosball, movie nights and an indoor zipline, the husband-wife duo hope to fill their 3,000 square-foot facility with as much fun as possible. All of it rentable at wallet-friendly rates.
In addition, the facility can be rented for big parties, for as little as $25 per hour. And on the weekends, with black lights, music and a dance floor, it turns into a teen-centric dance club.
This has been a dream for the Jorgensons for 20 years — to be able to provide teens with a consistent hangout. But now, at the intersection of cyberbullying and COVID shutdowns, it seems much more dire. The grandparents and parents of five know of several youngsters who have contemplated or died from suicide.
“They need someplace where they can get out of their head,” Frank said.
“That’s been a real strong driving force for us to get this going faster,” Nikki added.
And fast will be the name of the game for the Jorgensons over the next week.
The planned grand opening is March 6 — next Saturday. That was the date set when they acquired their location, and it remains now. But the original plan also consisted of Frank and Nikki taking control of the facility in early-February. But weather delays pushed their move-in date to Feb. 25.
With eight days to prepare, Frank jokingly agreed that he will have a golden opportunity to get back to his handyman days.
“We’ll be working ’round the clock for the next week, but it’ll get done,” Nikki said.
Courtesy Party Barn
The location, the site formerly known as the Westwood Fun Center, is a key.
“We wanted somewhere that would be iconic Pocatello. We wanted it to be really local Pocatello,” Nikki said. “We’ve found that people in Pocatello are so excited about this place because is was the place where the Hydrotube and Western Fun Center was. So we’re going to make a whole wall of just Pocatello memorabilia, walk through the timeline of what happened here. … Everybody is erasing history, we’re going to keep it.”
Reaching back in search of a more normal time is something the Jorgensons, like many, find themselves doing a lot during the pandemic. The hope for The Party Barn is to combine a contemporary need with a want for classic normalcy.
As the Jorgensons build a wall dedicated to the history of Pocatello, the Westwood Fun Center and the Hydrotube, anyone with pictures that they would like to contribute can email them to PartyBarn3@gmail.com.