Originally created 01/01/02

Bars dry up on New Year's Day



Steve and Pam Kinder opened Sport's Pub & Grill on Greene Street in October 2000, eager to nudge inside Augusta's sporting subculture.

As rabid sports fans, the couple yearned to use the venue as a gathering place for big-time sporting events, be it the Super Bowl, an Augusta Lynx playoff hockey game or the college football orgy that is New Year's Day.

But today, with six college bowl games on TV - including South Carolina in the Outback Bowl - Sport's Pub & Grill will be closed.

"We opened early last New Year's, ready for a big day, and about five people showed up," Mr. Kinder said. "My wife and I sat there all day and watched football alone. I think everyone is just too hung over to get out, so I won't bother this year."

It's a common sentiment. Edward Mendoza, the manager of Half-shell Harry's on Washington Road, said restaurant owners are finding it more cost-effective to close New Year's Day.

"It's not like the Super Bowl - we do great business for the Super Bowl," said Mr. Mendoza, whose restaurant boasts a 15-foot TV screen. "I think people prefer to spend New Year's Day in a home setting."

Mr. Kinder spent 20 years in the Navy before opening Sport's. He said in all the places he's lived, Jan. 1 is a huge day for sports bars; Augusta is the exception.

"We can't figure it out because college football is huge around here," he said.

Bob Prescott, a co-owner of Robbie's Sports Bar on Washington Road, has decided to roll the dice. Robbie's will open early today, and his satellite package can access every bowl game on 12 TVs, including two big screens.

But, again, it won't be anything like the Super Bowl.

"We don't do much college business," Mr. Prescott said.

Reach John Bankston at (706) 823-3352 or john.banks@augustachronicle.com.