Jerzees Sportsbar & Nightclub Open in Downtown AthensPosted: April 10, 2012
The clock strikes eleven. Staff members quickly move to put away tables and chairs which once held families sharing a dinner out. The lights dim, and the televisions begin flashing dance videos. A fun, cozy restaurant is converted into a sleek, trendy nightclub.
This projected model of restaurants that become clubs at night is thought to be an emerging trend across the globe, according to Restaurant Management Magazine and Nightclub & Bar Media Group.Restaurants in major cities such as Las Vegas, New York City, and Rome have been using this model to appeal to two different audiences of people, according to travel promotions in these cities. Jason Cruz and his partner are bringing this trend to downtown Athens.
Cruz is the co-owner of Athens’ newest venue, Jerzees Sportsbar & Nightclub. Jerzees houses a family-friendly restaurant during the day and converts into a club complete with dance floor at night.
“We wanted to build a place where everyone can come in and feel comfortable,” said Cruz. “Its a place where families can come to watch a game and have dinner, and at night it will turn into a club.”
“Yeah,” interjected Jarrod NeShawn Miller, the bar manager of Jerzees. “There are places in Atlanta that do this. Its pretty tight.”
Cruz believes Jerzees will be a venue that appeals to a large audience of people. The Baltimore native is looking to make the restaurant and nightclub a place for both the students and local Athens residents. Being new to Athens, Cruz feels he can bridge the gap that is between locals and students by listening to both groups.
Cruz knows what his he doing having had plenty of experience working in the bar and restaurant business. Cruz first got his start in 1987 as a DJ and soon decided to work his way into the management side of the business. He worked as a consultant for other bars in Baltimore before opening his first club in 2005.
The idea for Jerzees came about last year when Cruz’s business partner brought him to Athens realizing it was a busy town with a lot of potential. The duo needed someone who knew the downtown Athens community, so Miller was brought into the project to be the in town consultant.
“I had worked management at another bar downtown for about five years before meeting Jason’s business partner last summer,” said Miller. “I as the in town consultant at first, and then I brought in as the bar manager. I saw this as a great opportunity and jumped on it.”
The team found a location on Clayton Street and realized the value of creating a venue that related to the sports teams at the University and nightlife downtown.
“We saw there was a need for a venue for people who wanted to watch the game, but didn’t get tickets,” said Cruz. “We plan on covering all of the UGA sports teams like gymnastics and basketball. We will also have major coverage of the Olympics this summer.”
“This is a place where you can watch any game and not have to pay an arm and a leg to get a drink. Plus you can eat lunch or dinner here,” said Miller.
Jerzees will serve wings, burgers, cheese steaks, personal pizza, and other bar foods. Cruz wants to put some Baltimore favorites on the menu as well.
“We are going to take what we know and bring it here. There is a famous sauce in Baltimore that we put on steamed crabs. We are going to use that sauce on the wings here. It will be a Baltimore menu item,” said Cruz.
The kitchen will remain open at night selling personal pizzas after Jerzees changes from restaurant to nightclub.
“After you get done dancing for the night, you don’t have to go wait in line at like the Grill or somewhere. You can just get your personal pizza here to and eat in the cab on your way home,” said Miller.
Jerzees is also looking to bring large name entertainers and sports stars to Athens such as Jersey Shore cast members and Evander Holyfield, according to Cruz.
“We want to make ourselves a destination place downtown,” said Miller. “Lots of things we are doing here haven’t been done in Athens. We want Jerzees to make a statement downtown.”