Posts Tagged ‘Hotteaz’

Everyone is talking about The Roadhouse, the new Country rock nightclub that is getting set to open. A good friend of mine, Jim Kuhlman, is setting up the cameras and tv’s and computors and sound and lights. He was our guy for all that stuff at the Rock Inn and now he’s Fred Lopez’s guy at the Roadhouse. I put them together and so that gives me a front row seat to what’s going on with the place.
On top of that connection, I am fairly good friends with Fred and helped in the early stages with design. The bar is my biggest contribution. Not that I designed it, but rather that I convinced him that the old bar had to go and he needed to do something very close to what he created at his other new place, The Ref.
The Ref’s bar is the only bar that you routinely see couples and women sitting at. It is huge and oval with a large bank of flat screens hung overhead in the middle. It is one of the best bars I have ever seen and I lobbied hard for Fred to recreate whatever version of it he thought would work at this new place. Once he agreed, all I did was draw up his idea and then he hired the same guy who built the Ref’s.
It turned out beautiful as the picture below shows even in the middle of the construction scene before it is all shined up and stocked with glistening glasses and beautiful bottles of booze lit up with accent lighting as the plasmas play patiently in the middle above it all. While that picture is still just in my head, I got the one below Thursday when I went down and saw Jim as he was getting ready to start his lonely nightshift working on fine-tuning his many projects.
This visit  prepared me well for all the people we ran into yesterday as Elaine and I went out for an early dinner and then stopped at a few places to visit with friends. I never one time brought up the Roadhouse, but I was amazed at how often it came up.
We started out up at Hogan’s on the Southhill. We had been meaning to eat there for nearly a month since Elaine had waited on the owners where she works at Ferraro’s on Division. They told her she was a fantastic waitress and asked her to come check out their place. What a pleasant surprise. It is right next to Trader Joe’s which had Granola Cruisers and Vegan Heads streaming in and out the whole time I was eating my unhealthy but exquisite pulled pork sandwich and sweet potatoe fries. Elaine’s wrap was much healthier but still tasted quite good.
Elaine, of course,  gets into a conversation with Jen our waitress and asks her how she likes working at Hogans. Jen says it is great but she had just put in her two-week notice because she had been hired last week to be a bartender by Alison who works for Fred at the Ref and will be managing The Roadhouse. Elaine told her we knew Alison and her boss. Jen was very excited about her new job and told us to be sure to come see her. Elaine assured her that we would.
Then we stopped in at Mike’s Tavern, which was amazingly busy for 5:30 on a Saturday, to see Danette who had moved there from Sullivan Scoreboard a few months back. Our friend Jim had seen her at The Roadhouse recently and so Elaine was curious to find out if Danette had applied there.
Turns out Danette had been having lunch at The Monkey Bar with Dianne Record, who owns Sullivan Scoreboard, and curiosity got the best of them so they wandered over to have a look around. She was flabbergasted at how great everything looked and commented that there was nothing like it in Valley, I told her there was nothing like it between Seattle and Chicago.
If we are at a place and it is busy in the Valley, Elaine will get into at least a half dozen conversations with old friends, give out a handful of warm hugs to people she is glad to run into and pass out friendly hellos to at least a dozen faint aquaintences. She is a friendly thing. During the course of her visitations, The Roadhouse kept popping up and I showed off the bar picture on my Droid more than a few times.
On our way home we noticed that Darcy’s had a lot of people and so we stopped. Turned out that there were three different parties going on and the places was hopping and so too was Elaine shortly after arrival. Hopping about hugging and hello-ing like a talkative version of the energy bunny on laughing gas. Pretty soon I am pulling up the bar picture and showing people how cool the place that they keep talking about is going to be.
I also used my Droid to text Fred to see if he and Melanie were doing anything. It was 7:30 and he texted back that he been working at the Roadhouse since 6 in the morning and had just gotten home. I thought my day sounded much funner talking to everyone about The Roadhouse rather than working on it. When we drove past it on our way home I noticed Jim’s truck in the parking lot. I guessed that he must have punched in about the time Fred was clocking out. They better not be slacking because the place is suppose to open November 14th and everyone wants to see it and I can only show a limitted number the preview on my Droid.

Here is the bar Fred dreamed up for The Ref. As far as bar styles go this is a grand slam home run slash Hail Mary touchdown slash half court swish.

This the my 3-D rendering of his new version The Roadhouse.


This is the Roadhouse bar just waiting for the action to get started. Notice the 160-inch high def projection screen in the background. Adjusting and dialing it in was one of Jim’s projects for Thursday night.

As the doors of the miscarried Blue Kat night club remain tightly locked with eviction and equipment lien papers taped firmly to them, the Handle Bar down in Greenacres struggles to open its doors after a gestation period that is now rivalling an elephant’s. Meanwhile, work on The Roadhouse, located at the old Hotteez, is going along at a brisk pace and looks like it could be ready to go as early as mid October.

It’s like Cindy Lauper wrote a song about: Money changes everything. Never is it more true than when it comes to getting a new place off the ground.

I met Jesse Martinez at the beginning of the summer when he called me up and asked if I would draw him a set of as-built plans for his portion of the Halpins building at Bowdish and Sprague. Things were going fine at that point and spirits were high. Jesse was spending money and having fun as he put together his hot spot, dreaming of the good times to come as soon as the Kat’s doors opened.

Turns out he had gotten the cart a bit out ahead of the horse, and had not dealt with some of the less fun aspects of his new venture like permits and regulations and inspectors. It was the one about having to put in a $16k sprinkler system that finally dowsed the flame and put an end to the party before it got started.

The truth is that Jesse probably never had the kind of money to make a nightclub out of the old Habitat for Humanity store. If $16k blew him out of the water, then he was dreadfully under capitolized. I tell people not to get into a nightclub-type venture unless you have a spare $250k you don’t mind gambling with. That is the number that was lost by all three of the nightclub owners that I knew well enough to talk to about their finances. Of the many others I have watched from a distance, I would guess that the numbers and percentages hold true across the board.

Some may have been able to get out quicker than others and so have lost less. Jesse’s exit was the quickest I have seen, considering he never made it to the entrance but that probably means he lost a whole lot less than some that gutted it out for 2 or three years.

The Handle Bar down at the old Hat Trick location looks like it should wobble its way to opening. I have known its owner, Frank Smith, for a very long time. The only thing that matches his ingenuity and creative energy is his abillity to overspend. He does everything with skillful flair and that usually costs top dollar. When The Handle Bar does open, it is going to be something to see.

Since it is a bar and not a night club, it is a good bit less risky. I personally think the best odds are to open a bar on a shoestring and then bootstrap your way through a slow, pay-as-you-go improvement process. Unless you’re someone with deep resources, like the guy down the road at The Roadhouse.

In a way, Fred Lopez is exactly like Jesse and Frank and myself and every one else that has opened up or bought any kind of hospitallity establishment. I would call owning a place the true American Dream. Look how many athletes and celebs have a place with their name on it or own a piece of Planet Hollywood or The Hard Rock Cafe. I heard it over and over again from our customers when we ran The Rock Inn. Everyone has an idea and a few recipes.

What makes Fred different from Jesse and Frank and the rest of us common dreamers is that he is more like the rich and famous. While he may not be the latter yet, he is the former and that is the most important thing to bring to this game. I can safely say that the main reason I can safely say that the Roadhouse will succeed is because Fred can afford to be successful.

He can afford to do things right as he completley remodels the premises, transforming it into his vision just the way he sees it. Then he can afford to redo or adjust anything that can be improved upon after the place has been running for awhile. Just as importantly, he can afford to let his place run with little or no profit for as long as it takes to get established and running smoothly in the black.

But there probably will be a profit from the get go and it probably won’t be little because on top of the advantages wealth provides, Fred also brings a lot of ingenuitey and creative energy to the table. I was thoroughly impressed with the job he did at The Ref and I have been able to watch him work as he puts together this new place. The guy has good ideas and the energy and resources to make them reality.

I look forward to Fred’s final product, just as I look forward to Frank’s and was looking forward to Jesse’s. I admire their guts and creativity. I find watching their efforts to be a fun pastime and that is why I blog about new places opening up. They are always intriguing and hopeful stories and the supply of new beginnings is unending.

This is a Youtube video I posted made from the 3-d modelling I did for Fred at the earlir stages of the remodelling of the Roadhouse