The creation of Tropical Sports Bar in Gainesville started on a napkin.
Unhappy with their jobs, 27-year-old George Reyes and 28-year-old Ricardo Alonso jotted down the beginnings of a business plan while sitting at a bar.
Reyes said he saved up money from his gas station re-imaging job for two years in preparation for his first business venture.
“We wanted to do something new with our lives,” Reyes said. “I’ve always been curious about opening my own restaurant. Seeing the location, everything fell into place at the right time.”
In late October Reyes opened up Tropical Sports Bar at 2550 Atlanta Highway in the old Amici restaurant space.
The name “Tropical” is more of a description of the ambiance as opposed to the food.
“When you think of tropical, you think of relaxation and peace,” Reyes said. “It’s more of a lifestyle. I want this to be somewhere you can come and relax. A judgment-free zone.”
Alonso, the restaurant’s head chef, serves up a range of bar food, including burgers, wings and nachos, while also adding his own spin to the dishes. Nothing on the menu is over $14.
Instead of ordering a typical burger, people will find the Surf N Turf — a beef patty topped with grilled shrimp, caramelize onions, pepper jack cheese and melted queso — or the Mexican burger topped with bacon, guacamole, pico de gallo, fried cheddar and jalapenos.
Other entrees include pan-seared salmon, grilled churrasco flank steak and coconut barramundi.
Reyes said developing the restaurant’s menu was one of the most challenging aspects of starting the business.
He held several tastings with friends and family, taking in all of their criticism and making changes.
Reyes moved from Gwinnett to Gainesville about four years ago, and through his restaurant he is quickly becoming more connected to the community.
Tropical Sports Bar, which is a full-service bar, hosts trivia nights from 7-8 p.m. on Wednesday and karaoke at 8 a.m. on Thursday.
Every town has its handful of hole-in-the-wall restaurants and Reyes hopes his will fill that gap for many people.
“Meeting everyone and this whole community and seeing how everyone is connected by one way or another is cool,” Reyes said. “I’m starting to get regulars, and I know what they want to eat. People can come here, have conversations and drink with their friends.”
Tropical Sports Bar’s hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday and Tuesday; 4-11 p.m. on Wednesday; 4 p.m. to midnight on Thursday; and 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information call 678-943-8281 or visit tropicalsportbar.com.