September 10, 2012

First Call: Bar at Jack’s Grill Opens for Business in Collegetown

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Let the games begin.

Jack’s Grill, a Collegetown burger joint and late-night eatery, began serving drinks this weekend at its connecting sports bar after securing a liquor license in early August.

The sports bar will serve beer, wine and champagne, according to manager Pima Mbwana. It is currently offering four beer options on tap, though Mbwana said he hopes Jack’s will eventually offer 16 different varieties of beer, as well as local brews.

Open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m., the venue aims to attract students interested in eating, drinking and catching a game. So far, So far, the bar has been populated with “a lot of grad students,” he said.

Mbwana said customers have begun coming in at about 6 p.m., as students return from classes.

“For the most part, people are just happy it’s open,” he said.

While the venue seats up to 65 people, it has yet to see a full house, Mbwana said. Still, Mbwana said he is optimistic that Jack’s will soon become a regular spot frequented by Cornell students.

For now, customers typically lured in by Jack’s burgers and other fast food are being drawn to the adjacent bar, formerly the location of KC Copies, Mbwana said.

“Normally, they will be going to Jack’s and then they’ll say, ‘Wow, I can have a beer as well?’” he said. “We’re just excited to be here and we’re excited to give students an outlet.”

George Figueroa, co-owner of Jack’s with Kevin Sullivan, said he hopes showing a mix of professional and collegiate level sports will also help draw students to the bar.

Watching sports was what brought Nicole Drake ’14 to dine at Jack’s on Monday night. Despite being under 21 years old, the Baltimore Ravens fan, who does not have access to ESPN at her home, said she wanted to see the game.

“I like it here. It’s very chill and I just wanted to watch the game,” Drake said.

Rambert Kennith Nahm grad also stopped by Jack’s Monday night to watch the U.S. Open tennis tournament.

“We really  wanted to watch the U.S. Open final, and we figured this might be a good place to come watch it,” Nahm said.

Still, Nahm said the atmosphere of the venue was “just okay.”

Figueroa perviously co-owned Loco, a margarita bar on Stewart Ave. in Collegetown, with Sullivan. Figueroa said that the atmosphere for Jack’s new addition is meant to be more “laid back” than most bars in Collegetown.

“It will be a lot more of a casual atmosphere. It is not meant to be a nightclub-like atmosphere,” he said. “We want an atmosphere with good food and relaxing environment to hang out with friends.”

Figueroa said he has already received inquiries from organizations such as sports teams, fraternities and sororities that have expressed interest in hosting events at Jack’s.

He added that the sports bar will also provide a place for additional seating for brunch — a popular time for the restaurant, which serves breakfast as well as bar food.  In order to put more of a focus on the meal, Jack’s will soon introduce a “Mimosa Menu” weekend special on Saturdays and Sundays, Figueroa said.

“This first week is just our trial run to figure out the demands of the restaurant and space … [and to] see what our customers’ response is,” he said.

He said Jack’s is currently working on incorporating a display of Cornell sports memorabilia into the bar, to pay a tribute to Big Red athletics.

“We take pride in our Cornell sports …  Homecoming is coming soon and we want to show a lot of school spirit for Cornell,” Figueroa said. “We like to consider ourselves part of the Cornell family.”

Original Author: Tajwar Mazhar