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Rackets Tap House  

John AndersonJanuary 25, 2024

Rackets Tap House Awarded HEAL Grant to Kickstart Downtown Abilene Revitalization

Jan 25, 2024 (ABILENE, Kan.)—The Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation (DKEDC) announces Rackets Tap House in downtown Abilene has been awarded a $57,728 boost from the Historic Economic Asset Lifeline (HEAL) grant program. Rackets Tap House will soon begin building renovations of 303 North Broadway, Abilene, as a result.

The historic building stabilization project will receive the grant from the Kansas Department of Commerce’s Office of Rural Prosperity, Community Development Division, and Kansas Main Street collaboration. Also required is matching funding, which was secured by Rackets Tap House local private investors. The building renovations of Phase 1 will start no later than April and must be completed within two years.

“We congratulate Rackets Tap House on developing a landmark project that will restore a historic downtown building rich in history, and infusing a modern business which will attract and be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, benefiting our community as an economic driver and producing a positive impact for Abilene and Dickinson County,” DKEDC Executive Director Jessica Goodale said.

Trevor Witt, alongside his wife Lydia, are local born-and-raised Abilene residents who began the vision for Rackets Tap House several years ago with the purchase of the historic Racket Store building, originally owned by the Duckwall Bros in the early 1900s and later home to the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle. Trevor recalls his first job as a paperboy in 4th grade. “I remember picking up my stack of papers at 303 N. Broadway when it was the home of the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle. To play a role in restoring this building, which has touched so many lives in Abilene, is an exciting honor and responsibility.”

“I speak for our board and investors that we are incredibly grateful to the Kansas Department of Commerce for this award,” said Witt. “The core of Rackets Tap House is a community-based business to serve downtown Abilene, and we are excited that this state support is part of our story.”

The couple anticipates serving Kansas beers and wines via self-service taps, offering other drink options and a thoughtful food menu that incorporates fresh and locally sourced ingredients. “Rackets Tap House will be a downtown anchor for community gatherings. We see game spaces, lounge areas, and outdoor patio seating; nods to the past with a modern approach to fostering community. Essentially, where you can ‘get a little bit of everything’, which was the original tagline when The Racket Store was incorporated in 1901,” adds Witt.

“Abilene is a special place in so many ways and this is a great way to breathe new life into our downtown area,” said Curtis Rein, a Rackets Tap House investor. “We envision Rackets as a place to gather and meet with friends and family, and that’s how you build a community. It’s an exciting undertaking, and as more investors step forward, this project will keep growing.”

The HEAL grant program is an initiative aimed at assisting rural communities in revitalizing underutilized and dilapidated downtown structures and to foster economic growth. A total of 51 applications were received during the latest HEAL grant round. Of those, 21 projects from across the state were allocated nearly $1.4 million. These funds are supplemented by more than $3.4 million in private local matching contributions. To view all HEAL grant recipients, see Governor Laura Kelly’s announcement: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/KSOG/bulletins/386bc8f

For more information about Rackets Tap House, visit their website www.racketstaphouse.com, follow @RacketsAbilene on Facebook and @RacketsAbilene on Instagram.


PHOTO 1 CAPTION: Rackets Tap House

DKEDC’s mission is to promote economic development throughout Dickinson County by serving as a resource and partner: attracting new industries; enhancing and improving the quality of life for businesses, residences and visitors; while forming strong relationships with everyone involved. Through its Driving Dickinson County Partnership, DKEDC partners with like-minded individuals and organizations that desire to make Dickinson County a desired place to do business in Kansas.

Dickinson County Economic Development Corporation

203 NW 15th Street, Abilene, KS 67410
Telephone: (785) 200-3518






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