"We have pool tables, we have bowling lanes, we have lounges, all that stuff, but we really are a restaurant and a bar and that is what has always been the focus," says Mike Bitondo, managing partner and co-owner Garage on Capital Hill.
He helped open the popular billiards hall in 1996 with Alex Rosenast, former owner of Temple Billiards and RKNDY.
"And it pretty much looks exactly the way it did 12 years ago," Bitondo says.
Garage isn't just a clever name. The space just off Broadway really used to be a car dealership and repair shop. You can even find many of the original parts in the new incarnation.
"You'll see some of the old steam-driven belt machines in the billiards space that basically were here when we took the building over. They're just so big and so heavy we didn't move them and really tried to just incorporate them into the space."
But the real draw is the 25 pool tables, 20 bowling lanes (10 of them brand spanking new) and two shuffle board tables.
"If you're going to go play pool or you're going to bowl, you don't have to sacrifice food, you don't have to go to a dive, you don't have to have bad drinks."
The Garage menu boasts specialty cocktails, beer, wine, liquor -- and a menu that will please just about any palette.
"People love our fries; our calamari has always been good; our beef medallions are kind of a signature entree; my mom's meatloaf - I've tried to take that off the menu a couple of times and people were not happy about that; our quesadilla is like the most popular things on the menu."
One reason Mike says Garage has been so successful is that they've stayed true to the original concept.
"There are a million things you can do to make money if that's the ultimate goal. We could put pull-tabs everywhere and put video games (in) and maximize every corner of the building with this knickknack and advertising everywhere, but we just haven't."
He also credits his staff, which he calls a bunch of cool and interesting people.
"People come here not only to be around other people, but it stems from the ownership and the management and the people who take care of you on a daily basis. If those people are interesting an cool to you, if you want to be around them, you're probably going to come back."
Places Mike likes to Go Eat!: La Spiga, Cafe Lago, Tuttal Bella, Sam's Sushi, Il Bistro, Joule.
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