New on the scene in FW’s West Sev­enth area

The Dallas Morning News - - NIGHT LIFE - By TINEY RIC­CIA­RDI Staff Writer cric­cia­rdi@dal­las­ Twit­ter: @tiney­wrist­watch

Rev­el­ers in Fort Worth’s West Sev­enth neigh­bor­hood will no­tice a few new­com­ers to the scene, in­clud­ing a huge sports bar, a club that plays non­stop old-school hip-hop and, soon, a spot for late-night pizza.

Af­ter search­ing for lo­ca­tions in Dal­las, Hous­ton and Austin, en­trepreneurs Josh Rea­gan, James Hoff­man and Micah McDon­ald set­tled on West Sev­enth as home for four venues. A year and $4.5 mil­lion later, they have opened two, sports bar Var­sity Tav­ern and hip-hop joint Funky Sound, with hopes of fin­ish­ing the oth­ers, pizza place the Amer­i­can Pub and night­club El Cap­i­tan, by the spring.

Hoff­man is a hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try vet­eran with nearly two decades of ex­pe­ri­ence, while for Rea­gan and McDon­ald, th­ese new ven­tures will be their first foray into own­er­ship. So why open four busi­nesses si­mul­ta­ne­ously? The short an­swer: Go big or go home.

Var­sity Tav­ern alone was a $2 mil­lion pro­ject, says Rea­gan. “If we’re go­ing to spend a lot of money and in­vest in Fort Worth, we’re in­vest­ing in the area ... es­sen­tially com­pet­ing against our­selves,” he says.

Here’s a quick look at the new­com­ers:

Var­sity Tav­ern

This mas­sive bar and restau­rant — it’s 8,000 square feet in two sto­ries, in a re­fur­bished auto body shop at 1005 Nor­wood St. — seems to have a split per­son­al­ity.

The ground floor is all sports all the time. There are plenty of TVs for game watch­ing, in­clud­ing a group­ing of sev­eral 90-inch flat screens next to a sec­tion of side­line bleach­ers for those who re­ally want to feel like part of the ac­tion. Walk out­side through the 13-foot garage doors and you’ ll be in what Rea­gan calls “the play­ground,” a dog-friendly pa­tio area with gi­ant Jenga, ping­pong and lad­der golf.

Up­stairs, pa­trons will find more of an up­scale lounge vibe, Rea­gan says, com­plete with fire pits, a cock­tail pro­gram and pri­vate event spa­ces for rent.

Food ser­vice here is quick — just grab and go from a cafe­te­ria-style line fea­tur­ing Philly cheese steaks and other ball­park items such as pop­corn and na­chos.

Funky Sound

Say you need a change of scenery. Rea­gan, Hoff­man and McDon­ald ac­quired the prop­erty next door to Var­sity Tav­ern on Nor­wood and con­verted it into a hip-hop-fo­cused club in hopes you won’t go too far.

DJs play ex­clu­sively old-school hip-hop. Lo­cal artist Jerod Davies was en­listed to cover the walls in mu­rals of the genre’s leg­ends, such as Missy El­liott and No­to­ri­ous B.I.G., as well as other mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing Wil­lie Nelson — “peo­ple who are ‘funky’ and go against the grain in their mu­sic,” Rea­gan says. Davies over­laid the mu­rals with flu­o­res­cent black-light paint.

The Amer­i­can Pub

Ex­pected by Fe­bru­ary, T.A.P., as it’s be­ing called, will of­fer late-night pizza on Thurs­days, Fri­days and Satur­days, with ser­vice un­til 4 a.m. This is one con­cept McDon­ald be­lieves Fort Worth is truly miss­ing — af­ter-hours pizza is a sta­ple among bar scenes in Austin and New York, he says.

The pizza will be New York-style, and the venue it­self, at 2800 Bled­soe St., will have a dine-in area as well as a walk-up win­dow for passers-by. Rea­gan hopes to even­tu­ally of­fer de­liv­ery. Un­til that hap­pens, T.A.P. prom­ises a full bar with drink ser­vice un­til 2 a.m.

El Cap­i­tan

The own­ers hope to bring a Las Ve­gas-style party to Fort Worth with this con­cept. De­tails are lim­ited, but El Cap­i­tan will be a small night­club, also at 2800 Bled­soe, with a de­but tar­geted for this spring.

Pho­tos by Ron Baselice/Staff Pho­tog­ra­pher

Var­sity Tav­ern is a mas­sive venue that’s part sports bar, with plenty of big flat-screen TVs, and part up­scale lounge.

Philly cheese steaks and other items are served from a cafe­te­ria-style line at Var­sity Tav­ern.

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