Skip to main content
Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, May 29, 2009 11 years ago

Sports bar sold for new youth center

Share
The stripes are coming off Refs' Sportgrille on South Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. After a time as an adult night club and later a sports bar, the building's new owner seems to have somewhat loftier ambitions for the business.

The stripes are coming off Refs' Sportgrille on South Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. After a time as an adult night club and later a sports bar, the building's new owner seems to have somewhat loftier ambitions for the business.

The Rev. Joseph Davis of Mobilepreacher.org Inc. purchased the 4,751-square-foot building on 1.28 acres for $1.55 million with plans to turn it into a youth community center. But don't expect it to lose that sports-bar feel completely.

Davis, who works as a coach at Riverview High School, plans to work the casual, playful feel of the current layout into the teen center and to create a cafe for lunch.

“It came with everything from the sports bar, including the commercial kitchen, the bar and pool tables,” Davis says. “We're planning to work all that in. The bar is absolutely beautiful, and we plan to use it, just not for alcohol, of course. I would [also] love to turn it into a job machine for these kids. The business model I have for the restaurant is just to cover the expenses of the restaurant. ....It shouldn't be too hard for us to be cash flow positive on an operating basis.”

Davis hopes that the new cafe will attract the business crowd that wants a bit to eat while also helping troubled kids and the center itself.

The new youth center is the result, Davis says, of the death of his 18-year-old daughter and the life changes that it inspired and the depressed commercial real estate market, which knocked down the value of the prime Trail property by at least a third.

The new ownership plans to renovate the building and property — which it will likely call Nightlife, Hope When Times Get Dark — but first it plans to have the Riverview football team paint over the pin stripes.

Barry Seidel of American Property Group of Sarasota Inc. handled the sale.

Related Stories

Advertisement