Back Bar offers unique menu, setting

Feb 2, 2012 By Joshua Scheer Staff Writer

The Back Bar and Lounge located at the rear of Austin's Steakhouse on Federal Boulevard offers a small version of the sports bar scene.

"If I built myself a bar, this is how I'd like it," said owner Randy Archer.

The lounge features a dark-colored decor with changing LED lights accenting the bar itself. Colored lights fade in and out inside the bar surface and on the back wall, brightening up the glasses stacked against a mirror.

Hanging above the bar and on a couple of other walls are five flat-screen televisions. Archer said the televisions play whatever the sport of the moment is, noting any number of different matchups could be on at any time.

"We don't play Oprah very much," he said.

In another corner is a jukebox that Archer said could be accessed through smart phones.

The bar has six beers on tap, with an assortment of other liquors and bottled or canned beer.

Happy hour specials are offered every day from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Those dining in the steakhouse can order drinks for the bar to enjoy during dinner.

The bar has its own menu, separate from the steakhouse's offerings, although it is made in the same kitchen.

The food offered is a variety typical of bars, such as cheeseburgers, wings, chicken sandwiches, shrimp baskets and quesadillas.

Against one wall is a salsa bar, complete with a chip warmer and nacho cheese. Archer said all of the salsas offered are made in-house.

Part of what separates the Back Bar from other establishments, he said, is the friendly, non-smoking atmosphere.

"You can carry on a conversation most of the time," Archer said, adding the televisions are never turned up too loud. "It's just kind of calm and easy-going."

It's been less than a year since the Back Bar's conception.

"It started out of necessity," he said. "I had a liquor license I needed to use somewhere."

Eventually a deal was struck with Austin's Steakhouse-owner Gerardo Rico, and work on the bar began in April. The lounge is located in what used to be the rear-most dining room of the restaurant.

Archer was forced to travel a lot during the summer months, and he credited two of his construction employees, Tom Foust and Russ Kobbe, for much of the work.

"I think they did a real good job," Archer said. "They kept the ball rolling."

His son, Kris Archer, of Billings, Mont., also contributed to the look of the lounge. Kris designed and built an LED-lit sign above the bar and installed the other LED fixtures.

"It took him months," Archer said. "He just did it. ... I didn't know he was going to go to that much trouble."

The Back Bar opened officially in early November. There has not been a true grand-opening event yet, but Archer said that might come in the future.

In the coming months, there are plans to add a patio to the west side of the lounge. Archer said he hopes to have it ready to go for the summer.

Currently, the Back Bar and Lounge employs four individuals. With the opening of the patio, Archer expects to add about two more to the staff.

The Back Bar is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to approximately 2 a.m. Lunch on Sundays begins at noon.

"We're having fun," Archer said. "We've had a lot of nice comments and compliments so far."

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