Gus’s Bar and Grill will be the new tenant at 823 Garrison Ave., the former site of Saké Martini & Sushi Bar. The new owners are Karen and Mike Stephenson of Greenwood, Ark., who also own and operate the Rogers Avenue Pizza Parlour.
The Stephensons have worked at the Pizza Parlour for about 27 years each and acquired ownership from the late John Decker, who died in 2014. Mike Stephenson confirmed to Talk Business & Politics on Wednesday (Sept. 19) they were hoping to have the alcohol permit ready by Oct. 1 and that he was confident the grand opening would be “sometime in October, probably on a Monday or Tuesday to surprise people and correct any mistakes throughout the week.”
Stephenson said they are in the process of finalizing a menu, but told Talk Business & Politics it would be “sports bar” food, including burgers, nachos, salads, and sandwiches. The environment will be “family-friendly” with live sports viewings, karaoke, and other events, though it would not be closed off to the 18 and older crowd. For example, there are plans to host a monthly standup comedy open mic.
“Those types of things will be advertised weeks ahead of time. We would love to do the comedy every week, but it will probably start as monthly and definitely be reoccurring.”
The Stephensons have already hired “several people” and plan to employ anywhere from 30-50 at the location, including bartenders, waitstaff, and cooks. They’ve yet to find a general manager, but Stephenson said he would probably have to fill that role for a while. In addition to his time with Pizza Parlour — he and Karen have collectively more than a half-century at the establishment that opened in 1971 — he was the general manager at Western Sizzlin’ for about six years.
“We have lots of restaurant experience between us,” Stephenson said.
As far as the name, Gus, Mike said it was “an in-joke” between him and his wife, a nickname he’d given her several years ago.
Saké Martini & Sushi Bar operated at the address from 2012-2018. Owner Dave Rolens decided to close the doors at the end of June to pursue other endeavors. Prior to Saké, the address was the site of Mojo’s Ivory House and Piano Bar.