Hailey’s nightlife and food scene could soon take a great leap forward.

The Mint bar and nightclub on Main Street was sold last week to local builder Paul Conrad and a group of local investors.

“We are going to rip that joint,” Conrad said. “Eat, drink and celebrate. This will be a food and beverage operation with a strong bent toward entertainment.”

Conrad said he spent two years of his life framing The Mint for actor Bruce Willis, who bought the building and remodeled it in the 1990s.

“We are going to make Main Street in Hailey great again,” Conrad said.

The group has plans to restore the nightclub, two bars and restaurant to some version of its former glory.

In 2010, The Mint was listed by Sotheby’s for $6 million. It was listed for $2.5 million last week when a winning offer was made for the 15,000-square-foot, three-story building. The business comes with a liquor license.

During the 1990s, The Mint provided a priceless scene of Hollywood glamour that drew movie stars and business moguls from far and wide.

“It was as if someone had shone a klieg light down a gopher hole,” reported the L.A. Weekly, upon the arrival of Willis and actress Demi Moore to Hailey.

When Willis’ plans to develop a two-building nightclub in Ketchum did not work out, he bought a large portion of Hailey’s Main Street, including The Mint, the Liberty Theatre and a corner office building that was redeveloped as the E.G. Willis building. The building houses Shorty’s Diner.

The Mint was a dive bar for many years before it was bought for $200,000, remodeled and reopened with great fanfare by Willis in the mid-1990s. Paparazzi followed the likes of Darryl Hannah and John Kennedy Jr. to The Mint.

In 1996, billionaire Steve Wynn attended Willis’ premier of “12 Monkeys” starring Willis and Brad Pitt at the Liberty Theatre on the next block. Actor Jean-Claude Van Damme could be seen practicing kicks on the sidewalk.

A few big musical acts came through The Mint during the last few years of its operation under Willis’ Valley Entertainment group, including Leon Russell and Buffalo Springfield.

Until 2008, The Mint served as a karaoke venue with a restaurant downstairs. There weren’t any big-name movie stars, but the high-tech sound system and wide dance floor provided a much-needed place for the younger crowd to party.

Before taking over The Mint, Willis operated the Dynamite Lounge in Ketchum. Bette Midler, Tom Hanks and many other stars danced there.

Crooner Tom Jones performed for Willis’ 40th birthday party at a bowling alley in Bellevue.

In 2012, Willis donated Soldier Mountain ski area near Fairfield to a nonprofit organization. The mountain was sold in 2015 for debt owed.

Willis now has plans to build an airport nearby in Camas County.

Paul Kenny and Matt Bogue Commercial Real Estate managed the sale of The Mint, as well as portions of Willis’ property in Flying Heart Ranch north of Hailey.

The Liberty Theatre was donated by Willis last year to the Sun Valley Center for the Arts. 

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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