When Game Day Sports Bar and Grill’s doors closed Friday night, April 29, the thought was it wasn’t coming back.
Ten days later, Julia Shofner and Rudy Amesquita reopened the restaurant at 212 S. I St. in downtown Aberdeen.
The engaged couple, and co-owners, plans to expand the restaurant’s repertoire beyond its current menu that features fish and chips, wings, burgers, and a wide variety of appetizers.
That means more specialized food, like New York strip and rib-eye steak, sauteed shrimp and pastas, pulled pork, and pizza.
“We’re excited about pizza and pizza-by-the-slice,” Amesquita said. “It’s gonna be freaking awesome. And then we have an amazing kitchen. The broiler for the steaks, that’s gonna be amazing.”
The food quality will remain the same. Rancho Alegre Meat and Produce in Aberdeen, who provided its meat to Game Day while former owner Tom Sutera ran the place, is going to continue to provide its high-quality meats to Game Day.
The service will also remain the same. Amesquita and Shofner kept many of the staff members.
“We were thankful that they wanted to stay,” he said.
Amesquita said the crew is one of the key assets for Game Day, which is currently open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
“They’re just so friendly,” he said. “They really like working here. They’re very loyal to Tom, and to this location.”
Amesquita is glad to have a loyal customer following.
“One of the biggest assets was Game Day’s Facebook page, which has 2,676 followers (as of Tuesday, May 24),” he said. “They all love being a part of this, which is huge for us. They’ve actually showed us nothing but open arms.”
Amesquita said Game Day should have its full liquor license in early June. Currently, there is a “Spirts-Bar-Wine Lounge” liquor license notification in the entryway glass door dated Friday, May 20.
The couple can’t wait for that day, because Shofner has a way with Mimosas where she uses fresh fruit with grenadine and champagne to make the famous concoction. Amesquita can’t wait to show off their unique Bloody Mary recipe — complete with an infused vodka — to those interested in what sounds like a spicy way to wake up.
“Our infused vodka’s made with cracked pepper, roasted red (Serrano) peppers and green peppers, fresh garlic, onions, and it’s marinated for 36 hours,” Amesquita said. “We put that into our Bloody Mary, with pickled mushrooms and bacon.”
Shofner joked that it’s a “full meal.”
Amesquita also wants to focus on micro-brewed beers. In addition to the food and drink, he wants to provide more reason for customers to dine at Game Day.
“I’m not just gonna open my doors up and expect people to show up,” he said. “Give them a reason to come here.”
Currently, Game Day has an electronic dart game, a foosball table, and a variety of games — including Connect-4, Giant Jenga, and Giant Checkers. Soon, Amesquita said, there will be a 7-foot pool table inside the private party area.
Amesquita, who owns two restaurants and a bar in Elma, plus a motel, said to The Daily World on Monday, May 23, that he saw a lot of value in Game Day, which could help bring more live music acts to Aberdeen.
“Our goal is to bring in concerts,” he said. “We’ve already spoken with (Terry) Emmert at D&R (Theatre) across the street. We want to bring in big bands. With that, they can come to our bar, and then we can transport (them) back to our motel.”
Shofner and Amesquita already have reservations through December at Game Day for private parties.
“We’re working on (facilitating) that, where it doesn’t affect our day-to-day customers,” Amesquita said.
Amesquita said he and Shofner thought about getting rid of the family-friendly atmosphere at Game Day, because of how much money a restaurant gets from selling liquor. But, he saw the families showing up to the place.
“They love this restaurant and they like that they feel safe when they get here,” he said. “And it’s clean.”
Amesquita also wants a wall full of TVs in its main dining area.
“We can (show) MMA fights (and) pay-par-view fights here,” he said. “A lot of people want to actually come here just for the sports, so that’s why we want to build our wall.”
One challenge in the existing space is the long, thin windows on the exterior wall make for a space that is a bit bright for TVs. But, Amesquita said they’ll “figure it out.”
While Amesquita may have initially visited the restaurant to buy “restaurant equipment,” when he walked into Game Day, he fell in love with the place.
“The funny thing is I never wanted to own anything outside of Elma, because everything I own is in Elma,” Amesquita said. “But when I first walked into this bar and I looked at the high ceilings and the light fixtures, and the building itself, I was just amazed.”
Then, Sutera told Amesquita he could acquire Game Day. Amesquita was instantly sold on the idea.
“I think Tom did an amazing job of setting it up,” he said. “We just want to keep going with it.”