Tequila Beach Sport Grille made its name as a popular destination for drinks, dancing, live music and karaoke. It had a kitchen dining room in front – a good one, at that. But the new owners want to take the establishment in a new direction, with a renewed focus on food.
It's been rechristened Mannatees Sports Bar & Grill, 7423 Manatee Ave. W. The new place reopened June 1.
But this doesn't mean the end to the lively atmosphere fans of Tequila Beach grew accustomed to. There’s still live music, DJs and karaoke happening in the back bar where the lighting is lower and the music a few decibles louder. It's a full liquor bar, just like up front. It's just a bit more noticeable in back.
There are specials every week: Monday is Poker Night, Tuesday is Trivia Night (win gift cards), Wednesday is Ladies Night where ladies get free domestic drafts at the back bar from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday is 10 wings for $5 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday is $10.50 domestic pitchers all night.
Billy Rice Band plays every Thursday, Democracy plays Friday nights.
Bart Mann, who owns Mannatees along with his wife and business partner Mark Collings, said the establishment is reinventing itself as a family-friendly sports bar where all ages are welcome.
But there are some limits. The back bar closes to the under 21 crowd at 9 p.m. - literally closes. A new addition to the place is a pair of doors separating the back-bar festivities from the dining room. The doors are soundproof, so someone enjoying a late dinner doesn't have to endure the karaoke version of "There's a Tear in My Beer" if all they want to do is eat.
And don't worry, Ohio fans. Mannatees remains a Buckeyes-friendly bar and one of the two big screens are dedicated to the Cleveland Browns game each week. Seminole fans meet there, too.
The new owners said they weren't about to turn away a built in customer base that brought their Ohio-based leanings to Tequila Beach each week. But if the Browns start the season 0-6, well...
Browns fans may not be guaranteed the big screen forever, but no one will ever want for an NFL game at Mannatees. There are plenty of flat-screen, high-definition televisions to show every game that's available on NFL Sunday Ticket.
Around 11 p.m. my wife and I exchanged our seats at the front bar for a couple stools in back. We’d spent about an hour and a half longer up front than I had planned, but we enjoyed chatting with bartender Dylan Britton and the Manns about craft beers, the rigors of opening a restaurant and the hate they get from a select few who aren't happy there isn't Budweiser on tap. It's available bottled, but apparently that's not the same.
Speaking of, Mannatees has an impressive lineup of about 35 beers on tap and most aren't your typical domestics. I tried a Hennipen, Breckenridge Vanilla Porter and a Highland Gaelic Ale before finishing off the evening with a Guinness, my go-to drink.
Hint: If you’re in the mood to try new beers and want to ask the bartender for recommendations, start with the front bar. It’s not as crowded at night and definitely not as noisy. There are several unique brews on their menu that I'll try next time, like Storm King Stout, Bells Oberon, Anchor Steam and Stump Knocker.
The back bar was what we remembered from the nights we spent at Tequila Beach. The new owners haven’t changed much back there, which is fine by us.
They made significant improvements to the outside deck. Gone are the plastic tables and chairs, replaced with wooden ones. Some of the tables are built around the palm trees that growing through the deck. (See photos.) Smoking is only permitted outside.
Mann said he plans to add flat-screen televisions and fans outside.
Also happening around town:
- , 5627 14th St. W., is rocking every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night with music, dancing and karaoke courtesy of DJ Scott and Bev. Happy Hour is 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. and pitchers are $6.50 and buckets of beer are $11.25.
- , 201 10th St. W., is hosting a wine and beer pairing at 7 p.m. Friday. The event, , features beers and wines from around the world with food pairings from area restaurants. Tickets are $75 per person or $125 for VIP. For more information or tickets contact Tara Carr at 941-746-4131, ext. 17 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the special events section at www.southfloridamuseum.org.
- , 313 Old Main St., has $6 pitchers and free pool all day Sunday along with buckets of beer for $10 during NFL games. Same drink specials whenever the Rays are on TV.
- , 424 Old Main St., has Service Industry Nights every Monday. Those in the service industry get 10% of their entire bill. Drink specials include two for $5 select Bombs, $4 American Honey or Fireball shots and a chance to win $25 whenever you buy a drink.