A union carpenter by trade, Kurt Johnson had a dream since his early 20s. He wanted to own a business. After making major renovations to the 200 Lafayette St location, his dreams came to fruition and Shawbucks opened March 31, 1995.
The name Shawbucks came from a nickname his great uncle was called while working as a logger. Great Uncle Clarence and his buddies tended to have a few drinks while working. Clarence's job was to grab the bucksaw on the way out at the end of the day. One of his co-workers asked him not to forget the sawbuck (he actually meant to say bucksaw but had a few to many drinks)and his nickname became Shawbuck. Kurt associated the name Shawbuck with a group of guys having a few drinks and laughs together. It only made sense to use the name for the bar since Kurt's intention was to provide a place for friends to gather for laughs and drinks.
When asked why he decided to get into the bar business he replied, “I like to build and I like to drink so I put my two trades together and built a bar.” Not too long after Shawbucks opened, Kurt purchased the former Journal Press building in December 1995. This building sat adjacent to the original Lafayette St. location. This second bar would be named Macktic Jacks. Kurt wanted to be able to offer two different settings to his patrons. The first bar was more of a quiet, “hang out with your friends” bar while the second bar featured a stage for bands and dancing, as well as a disc jockey booth. Kurt was able to connect the two buildings so he had two bars in one location. This was opened in October 1996.
Development started occurring on the Westside of downtown Jamestown. The 200 Lafayette St. location was on land that was needed for the new ice arena that was being built. Kurt moved his entire business into the Journal Press building which is where the business is now located.