Friday, November 27, 2020

New downtown bar offers casual setting

When working on a puzzle, sometimes a fresh set of eyes is needed to help see what’s missing. Plattsburgh’s nightlife just got its missing puzzle piece — a homely new sports bar targeted to not only at sports fanatic, but also to gourmands.

Located on 68 Margaret St. where Rumors used to be, Hobie’s Sports Den is a new bar that garnered over 2,000 likes on Facebook within 10 days of opening, all through word of mouth. The secret behind the good turn out? Everything. Facebook reviews show customers appreciate the interior design, the food, the beer and, most importantly, the service.

Looking at the exterior, Hobie’s Sports Den looks like any other sports bar — the magic is inside. Upon entrance, the first thing one notices is the kitchen behind the bar where the staff can be seen putting the final touches on customers’ orders. The walls are embellished with outdoor recreation equipment popular in the North Country. Who knew snowshoes and a toboggan would complement exposed wall and a pool table — situated in the far back of the bar— so well that you almost forget how challenging the 21-foot-wide establishment was to design.

The facility makeover is the work of family members and friends of one of the owners, Scott Bazzano.

Bazzano is the owner of the restaurant Pasquale in Peru, where he met his current partner Ziad Sassine.

Sassine worked as a cook at Pasquale since 2007 and hit it off with Bazzano right away. Sassine said the two have always wanted to start a business together, and the opportunity presented itself one August afternoon when they fell in love with the venue on 68 Margaret Street.

“We were having lunch downtown and saw the ‘for rent’ sign. We contacted the landlord and we started working on it,” Bazzano said.

Both Sassine and Bazzano have been a part of the restaurant industry most of their lives. Before moving to Plattsburgh with his brother — an owner of a pizzeria on Route 22 — Sassine owned his own restaurant in his home country Lebanon. Bazzano does also have family members from the restaurant. In fact, his maternal grandfather, whom Hobie’s Sports Den is named after, was a restaurant owner in Peru.

When opening Hobie’s Sports Den, Bazzano said they saw the need for a place where good food and craft beer was being enjoyed while watching sports or having an intimate conversation.

“You can get anything in one spot,” Bazzano said. “Not too many places in the area offer that.”

Besides the unique interior design, the sports bar sets itself apart from other bars with its menu, which has garnered regulars for the bar. The menu has items not found downtown. Sassine said customers come three times a week just to get their dose of Montreal Smoked Meat, which can be found in their wraps, flatbread pizza and their pub baskets. Monte Cristo and the Ruben wings are other dishes that are unique to Hobie’s Sports Den.

“Everything you find here is different and new,” Sassine said and explained that he and Bazzano didn’t want to offer what others were offering. They had to have something different, something new.

Kitchen Manager Joe Hooper worked at Pasquale for six years, and then at the Ninety Nine restaurant for six years before he started working for Bazzano again. He said there is a lot of love and passion that goes into their work to satisfy their customers.

“If they’re not happy, we’ll go to any lengths to make sure we make it right before they leave,” Hooper said.

In an effort to differentiate themselves, from other restaurants, the owners will also add some Lebanese flavor. Sassine said every weekend customers can look forward to trying Lebanese specials which will be added to the menu if they receive a positive reception.

“Every once in a while we’re going to switch the menu. So people don’t get sick of it,” Sassine said. The concept is also applied to their craft beers. The eight craft beers offered are not fixed items on the menu. There are different beers every day.

Though many things can be found at Hobie’s Sports Den, events such as karaoke night or live music is not one of them. Part of the reason is that they are a new establishment. Sassine said they are planning on having events, but they don’t want to rush it.

“We will be doing some events, but we just need to get everything set labor-wise,” Bazzano said.

While details for events are being worked out, customers can polish their skills in pool or make use of the electronic dart board. They can also enjoy music from the digital jukebox available with the most popular contemporary and classic songs — songs waiting to void the sounds of billiard balls rolling on the felted pool table.

Hobie’s Sports Den is open Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. They are also open late nights on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The late night offerings are limited to pizza and appetizers between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m., and alcohol is served until 2 a.m. Sundays are the shortest operational hours for the establishment as it is only open between 12 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Email Winta Mebrahti at winta.mebrahti@cardinalpointsonline.com

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