Steve and Ben Nippert

LiveOaks owner Steve Nippert and his son, Ben, stand by a beer-tap fountain outside the restaurant during a soft opening last Saturday.

For years, Auburn residents and visitors have walked or driven by the vacant service station building on the corner of Glenn Avenue and College Street, buying tickets from scalpers or just making their way downtown.

The building itself  was something of an eyesore on one of the most visible corners in downtown. But over the last year, it has been slowly transformed into something inviting and attractive by Steve Nippert, the owner of LiveOaks Restaurant and Bar, which opened its doors (and patio) to customers on Wednesday. 

"This site, it was abandoned," Nippert said. "The city was just very, very happy someone was going to do something with this corner."

Nippert said he looked at a lot of potential locations — Athens, Tuscaloosa — before deciding on Auburn. 

It was a natural decision for Nippert, who has made a couple stops in town since graduating from Auburn in 1975 and still holds Auburn close to his heart. 

"I went to school here in the Pat Sullivan era, and I came back and taught ROTC — I was the commandant of cadets — I taught ROTC during the Bo Jackson era, and now I’m back for the Gus Malzahn era," he said.

After serving for 20 years in the Air Force from 1975 to 1995 and working in forensic accident reconstruction until 2010, Nippert went looking for his next venture. 

With his son, Ben, who will serve as general manager, he decided to make his first foray in the restaurant business. 

LiveOaks will have two distinct atmospheres, a cozy dining area inside that seats about 55 people and a patio area that features a large, three-sided bar, plenty of seats, a fireplace, and even a beer-tap water fountain.

"I like that kind of backyard feeling and keeping it soft with stone and cedar so it has that homey feel," Nippert said.

The menu features $6-$11 appetizers, like The Avocado, a panko breaded avocado topped with a chicken and bacon spicy sauce and served with crostini. 

The entrées range from $14 to $24, and include selections like a ribeye, seasame seared tuna, and shrimp and grits. 

The cocktail menu features Auburn-themed treats like the Thach Avenue Cocktail, Salty Tiger, Langdon Hall Punch and the Old Depot, which zings with bourbon, citrus cognac and fresh ginger. 

The patio will generally be open at 3 p.m., with inside dining starting at 5 p.m.

Nippert says patrons will be able to park after 5 p.m. at Berney Office Solutions across the street, Auburn First Baptist Church, or in university parking behind the Chevron.

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