Angel Retana is in no particular rush to open his latest Gainesville establishment, 787 Hacienda, an eclectic mix of sports bar, dance area and lounge on a hill overlooking Atlanta Highway.
He’s aiming for September, but the opening may push into October, possibly Halloween.
“We want to be here for a long time,” Retana said. “Gainesville is my home and this (establishment) is going to have my name on it, so it’s got to be good.”
Retana’s restaurant career goes back 20-plus years, when he and his wife opened nearby El Carreton Mexican Taqueria.
He has been busy since last year converting 787 Hospital Drive from a strip club, the former Top of Gainesville, to a sports bar.
The project has dragged some because of permits for sprinkler systems, but otherwise, “everything is coming together,” Retana said.
Workers are painting outside and finishing floors inside, but there is still much work to do.
Plus, Retana wants to take extra time with the red brick building, which dates to 1934, when it served as a hospital.
“This building has so much character,” he said. “I’m trying to keep its original state, like with the windows and the entrance. I just like that.”
Kevin Ware of Ware Consulting, a digital marketing and design firm in north Atlanta, is working with Retana on concepts and branding for the building.
“We’re working with a much older building … so how do keep the feel of it while updating it and making it appealing to more of a millennial crowd?” Ware said. “What we’re trying to do is update what’s here but keep the bones and structure intact.”
The building will feature a sports bar “with a more upscale feel” and typical sports bar fare, such as wings, salads and hamburgers, he said.
A hallway, “The Alley,” will connect the sports bar to a dance area featuring another bar.
“We’ll have some cool effects on the walls. Colors will be different and make a smooth transition,” Ware said. “... The whole concept is to take people through different experiences.”
Yet another area will feature more seating where people can relax and “just take a break.”
“There will be food throughout the whole building,” Retana said.
He said in an earlier interview he foresees “people having a good time here, a good time there. TVs everywhere, showing soccer games.”
“I’m a visionary. I see things already busy,” said Retana, who also owns Gainesville Seafood Market and Fajitas restaurant.