Owner Bill Lohr said he’s constantly meeting new customers who say they had no idea Tailgaters existed, and those who knew of the Brentwood restaurant but were skeptical, since it’s located where previous occupants gained a bad reputation.
“We’re a family restaurant, but a lot of people don’t realize it,’ Bill said. “I see families drive by all the time, and they don’t even get out of their cars because as they drive by they say, ‘Nah, not that place – that’s a bar.’
“If they make it out of the car, they poke their heads in and ask ‘is this place OK for kids?’ since the first thing you see is the bar. But we aren’t just a bar; we’re family owned and operated. We go the extra mile to make sure you get a quality experience everyone can enjoy.”
Along with his parents, LeRoy and Arla, and brother Todd, Bill created Tailgaters in July of 2005. The brothers had always dreamed of opening a sports bar, so when LeRoy found the Brentwood location, the Lohr family stepped up to the plate, working non-stop for a week to get the place ready for business in time for CornFest weekend.
“It was an extreme makeover,” Todd said. “We had this place torn up. There were people everywhere – painters, carpenters, electricians – all working to get things done. We didn’t sleep for about four days.”
“It was not organized at all,” Bill added. “We had no business getting into this business. We learned the hard way – we’re still learning every day. Anyone else would have quit a long time ago, but our parents taught us the importance of hard work, so we kept going. We’re still here, so we can’t complain too much.”
While the Lohr family continues to learn the ropes, Todd said the biggest challenge is to make people aware that Tailgaters is more than a bar; it’s involved in the community. The restaurant hosted a charity karaoke series last month to raise money for Relay for Life, and sponsors five local youth softball teams – one in each division. To emphasize the family-friendly atmosphere, kids eat for free from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The menu alone, consisting of burgers and chicken entrees, demonstrates that Tailgaters is not just a bar. The kitchen is run by Paul Narriman and Jason Williams, graduates of the Culinary Institute of America. Willams recommends the Tailgater pasta with Alfredo sauce or the shrimp platter. “I cook with love and put a great amount of care into the food. We work hard, and it shows in the food.”
While there is a bar at the center of Tailgaters, Bill said he keeps tabs on his patrons to make sure the family atmosphere is maintained.
“It’s one thing to be loud – it’s a sports place, so people get excited and they want to cheer or boo, but there’s no excuse for cussing,” Bill said. “We want people to come here and have a good time, but we want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable.”
For the sports crowd, Tailgaters provides 10 televisions on site that can be tuned into a variety of sports, from football and baseball to NASCAR and hockey. Tailgaters is subscribed to multiple sports packages so that almost any sports fan will be satisfied with the selection. In honor of local teams such as the A’s and Giants, draft and well beers are $2 during the games.
Tailgaters is hosting its fourth anniversary on Sunday, July 19. To celebrate, the Lohr family will host a raffle for two tickets to any baseball game in the country, a prize that also includes travel and hotel accommodations. For more information, call 925-513-8281 or visit www.brentwoodtailgaters.com.
Tailgaters, located at 8065 Brentwood Blvd., is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Thursday; 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday; and noon to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.