— There’s no reason why sports bars have to be all about the 21-and-older crowd.
It’s the philosophy behind Kokomo’s newest restaurant, Rock Bottom Grill, which had a “soft opening” a little more than a week ago in the former Tailgator’s location on South Plate Street.
The business, which is planning a grand opening for early February, is sectioned into a hive of five areas, the front being a family dining section.
In all areas, the kitchen sends out many of the standard family dining and sports bar selections: burgers, chicken wings, nachos, steaks and beer-battered fish, among more than 30 other options for appetizers, entrees and desserts. But many of the items come with some change-ups, like the burgers, which include a 100 percent Angus beef patty between a pretzel roll instead of a standard burger bun.
The restaurant has nightly specials, such as “bottomless” chicken wings with two sides for $9.99 every Monday.
And while families dine — children 8 and younger eat free on Saturdays with the purchase of an adult meal — they can watch one of 64 TVs at booths and around the rest of the front area.
“Kids can be watching ‘Sponge Bob,’ Dad can be watching the game,” said Gary Lane, the restaurant’s general manager.
If the TVs aren’t enough entertainment, families can shoot some pool or hop on “Little Ben,” a mechanical bull named after Kokomo’s landmark steer, Old Ben.
The restaurant also plans to have children’s nights, including craft projects. Although Rock Bottom missed the chance for a children’s Christmas craft night, Lane said, the business wants to have one for Valentine’s Day.
Rock Bottom will be the second business that owner Dan Dumoulin II opened that he marketed toward families and children; the first business being Kokomo Skate World and Fun Center off U.S. 31. Dumoulin also owns another night club and three strips clubs.
The back areas of Rock Bottom will also include a 21-and-older bar area.
The central area mirrors the atmosphere of the front family section, with a bar upfront, tables scattered throughout and pool tables and other games along the walls.
A stage sits in the corner, which Lane said would be for live entertainment.
A second-floor loft that oversees the main bar area rents out as a private VIP lounge starting at $250 a night, depending on the day of the week. The room, which can hold up to 44 people, includes its own bar and bartender.
Back on ground level, the back side of the main bar leads into a smaller, sound-proofed room with a DJ stage and a dance floor.
Lane said Rock Bottom has a house DJ who will play throughout the week. The business has also recruited the DJ from The Vogue Theater bar in Broad Ripple to play
music every Wednesday, which is 1980s-themed “Retro Rewind Wednesday,” in the dance room.
The bar will also open garage doors on the dance room’s walls in the summer. The business has plans to include an outdoor volleyball pit for the warmer months, Lane said.
In the rear of the building, connected to the dance room, is the second of two private rooms.
Cedar-covered walls surround a deck and salt-water pool with a swim-up bar. The room, which the restaurant has dubbed “Paradise Cove,” rents for about $500 and up a night, Lane said, and holds 70 people.
Lane said Rock Bottom has been intending to bring new ideas for entertainment to the Kokomo area, with hopes of bringing in customers from other cities. With plans to recruit some bigger rock and country musical acts from Indianapolis, he said, he hopes to be able to draw in people from as far away as 75 miles.
• Daniel Human is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. He can be reached at 765-454-8570 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.