Posts Tagged ‘The Handle Bar’

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

Ay Caramba! What is going on with all the activity here in the Spokane Valley hospitality scene? I don’t believe I have seen the scene in such a seismic state of shift. I know of five eminent openings and one business moving out of an oft-failed building making way for a personal favorite to move in. With eyes and ears as open as my mouth at a barbecue buffet, I have gathered some interesting tidbits. Some of it rock solid, having talked firsthand with the owners and some of it a bit like dust in the wind having merely caught a whisper here or there.
Before I talk about what is yet to come, I should mention Porky G’s barbeque which opened a month or so ago. I have spent so much time researching their product that I have yet to find time to write a blog post. It is out there next to Fred Meyers where A & W was for several years. This place is not one that I can take the family to help me out. Barbeque is far too serious of a culinary genre and I insist that my data be gathered firsthand with messy fingers. I can only say for now that Porky’s is the sort of place I cannot afford to think of my belly or my family, but rather selflessly sample as many dishes as possible on my own in order bring Scoop readers the most accurate report.

    1) The Blue Kat next to Halpins

I wrote about Jesse Martinez and The Blue Kat in my last blog post. They are still hoping to open in a few weeks.Read the blog here.

    2) The Handle Bar in Greenacres

This one is a whisper in the wind, though I have heard a lot of whispering. For example, I talked to the food distributor rep who told me they would be serving California Sandwiches which she explained but I never really understood except that they are kind of souped up deli sandwiches.
I also ran into their bar manager at Kinko’s as I was printing off the floor plans I had drafted for the Blue Kat. She was waiting to use the printer to make copies of their layout that the liquor board requires. This chance meeting gave me the opportunity to get a peek at just how the business would be configured. As I had been hearing, it is going to be three businesses in one location. The concept and focus are not bad since it is aimed at servicing the baby boomer bikers which is an ever burgeoning segment of the population as the boomers thunder into their advanced years looking for ways to spend their leisure time and spare money.
There will be an apparel shop and mechanic shop to go along with the bar. It is located out in Greenacres where The Hat Trick used to be which is where Huppins used to be which is where who knows what used to be.

    3) Little Euro on Pines

My dirt on this place I got firsthand from one of the owners named Dave Sevier, who was sweeping in his parking lot the other day as I happened to be conveniently walking by. Since I did not reveal my secret Scoop identity, he did not realize we were both collecting dirt at the same time.
I had been watching the renovation progress since it began and had already guessed it was the Old European gang by the name on the reader sign and the familiar colors they were painting on the building. I was just making sure that the Valley would once again be able to indulge in their heavenly Ableskeevers and devilishly delicious stuffed French Toast. The place is only 1600 square feet compared to their 6,000 square foot Northside location. Living just around the corner with fond memories of the old place at Sprague and Bowdish, I told Dave we would be glad to take what we could get.

Update The Little Euro opens June 18th

    4) Two Columns at the old T Pranos/Pinochios on Sprague

This is some more owner-direct dirt I picked up the other day when I strolled over from the convenience store parking lot next door. Here my clandestine snooping was thwarted by my poor hearing and the owner’s thick Greek accent. I know his first name is Masada but I gave up trying to understand his last name after several attempts. What I did understand him to say, I think, is that he plans to serve Greek and Italian. He is an interesting retired gentleman. He told me he used to have a Greek restaurant at the old Riverpark Square and a creamery next to Godfather’s Pizza by Hastings on Sullivan.
As we talked while he painted the ceiling tiles with a roller, I thought he was a bit daft at least as far as this venture was concerned. But I could tell he knew kitchens and service and recipes by the things he was saying. I stopped second guessing him when he told me he had been a teacher for 18 years before he moved to the Spokane Valley back in the 70’s. When I asked what he taught I was expecting something like history at a junior high somewhere in Greece. When he said he taught business at a school in Seattle called the U of W, I figured I would wait to pass judgement on his prospects.

    5) Something or Other at the old Luxury Box/ Percy’s

Ok, I admit this one is pure Dustin “the wind” Hoffman. But I bet I am right. I have been smelling the smoke for a while and where there is smoke there is fire, some times. My secondhand smoke signals inform me that the original owners of Casey’s sandwich shop at Sprague and Evergreen have signed a lease and plan to open in August. That is all the Scoop can divulge at this point in time and probably more than good journalism would allow.

Lastly, on a sad note Winger Brothers has joined the growing list of ventures to come and go at that spot at the Valley Mall. But my beloved Hong Kong Buffet has boldly decided to go there where no man has profitably gone before. I am betting on them since the same could be said of the spot in the mall near the movie theaters that they successfully conquered. To see why I think they will be winners at the old Wingers, go to this recent blog post.