EXCLUSIVE – The new owners of Rock Island’s Blue Cat Brew Pub, soon to be the Big Swing Brew Pub, are local real estate developers John Timmer, Shane Scott and Jon McAtee, according to a number of sources who asked not to be identified, and verified through city documents and applications. The sale to the trio was also confirmed Friday by Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms, during recording of an episode of the podcast QCUNCUT.

The trio are the creative and financial force behind the new Backyard Bowl and Abides Bar, in the old Milan Lanes building, 2020 1st St. W, Milan, which is having its opening to the public tonight.

When asked about the sale, Timmer said, “we can’t confirm or deny it at this time.”

It was first exclusively reported on QuadCities.com that Blue Cat had been sold last Friday. It was additionally reported that the Cat would be renamed Big Swing, which would open later this fall after a renovation period following Blue Cat’s closing on Aug. 31.

According to sources close to the deal at the Blue Cat, the word had gotten out among employees there, as well as city employees, that the trio were the buyers.

According to additional sources, the trio were waiting to make an official announcement “out of respect for (Blue Cat owners and founders) Dan and Martha (Cleaveland), because (the trio) want to let them close out the Blue Cat in their own way on their own terms without any distractions.”

According to sources, an official announcement of the new ownership and comments on its new direction will be made after Aug. 31. However, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the deal and the new direction of the pub and restaurant, the changes to both will not be overly dramatic, and will mostly include a refurbishing of the existing décor and an extension of the beverage and food menu which will include many of the old Blue Cat favorites while incorporating new selections. There will also be “a definite nod to the history of the Blue Cat” within the décor and atmosphere, sources said. There are also additional potential plans in store, which cannot be revealed at this time, but which will soon be reported here on QuadCities.com.

The restaurant and brewery, in the heart of the District, at 113 18th St., was one of the first brew pubs in the Quad-Cities, opening in 1994. It blazed the trail for many other pubs of its ilk and visual style, and includes an eclectic menu of intriguing food and beverages.

For continued coverage and more details, continue to check out your site for fun, free, local entertainment news and coverage, QuadCities.com.


Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.