The chatter of sports broadcasters and glow of games on giant TVs will fill the upcoming ChopBLOCK Food and Spirits when it opens on Friday, Feb. 1.
Mike Mills, the brains and general manager behind the operation, said he hopes to bring a fresh take on sports bars in the two-story restaurant, which is located on the Gainesville Square at 110 Main St.
Robert Knapp, longtime friend of Mills and Kevin Shaffer, a former Atlanta Falcons player, teamed up with Mills to make the ultimate sports bar vision come true. Both Knapp and Shaffer own the restaurant.
“We’re just sports nuts that love good food,” Mills said.
He said the restaurant’s name, ChopBLOCK, is derived from the name of an illegal football block and the tool used by butchers.
Mills describes the place as a premium casual sports restaurant.
When entering ChopBLOCK, people walk over a chunk of 10-yard-line turf, which is surrounded by high-top cocktail tables. Traveling further into the restaurant, people will a long community table, bar, six booths and 14 sets of TVs from 65 to 130 inches.
Mills said all of the booths will be equipped with multiple USB ports. He encourages customers to take advantage of the booths for work lunches.
People will have the option to access the restaurant’s second level via the stairs or an elevator.
The upstairs room will be available for private parties and coach clinics. Seating up to 100 people, Mills said he plans to support local high school and middle school teams by offering up the second level for their use.
Through connections with Shaffer, ChopBLOCK intends to provide sports celebrity signings every month. These famous people include sports broadcasters and athletes.
“We want to offer something different to the community,” Mills said. “We want to be an event center for coaches and fans alike.”
Working with a team of chefs, Mills created a menu inspired from stadium food around the country.
Mills said he grew up as a Navy brat, and had the opportunity to try the staple foods from different sports stadiums.
Some dishes that will be on the menu include a Chicago dog, New York pastrami burger, San Francisco fried squid and New Orleans seafood nachos. Other food options entail burgers, steak and wings.
Having decades worth of restaurant management experience, Mills said he is excited to become a part of the great businesses on the Gainesville Square.
Out of 30 potential locations for ChopBLOCK, he said downtown Gainesville was his No. 1 choice.
“We just want people to come in, relax, have good food and watch sports,” Mills said.