By Janee Law
Former Huntington village sports bar Rookies has closed its doors after eight years in Huntington village, opening the door to new ownership, which plans to renovate the space and open a new bar in the coming weeks.
Michelle Wright, a former owner of Rookies, said the closing of the bar marks “the end of an era.”
“It was a great experience,” said Wright, who owned the 70 Gerard St. bar for seven years before selling it in September 2014. “But I think it’s going to be open to new possibilities in a new generation of sports lovers.”
She said she strove to marry sports with sophistication in the bar, which served much of the typical sports bar fare, including wings, burgers, and around 30 beers.
Wright added that she sold the bar as part of her plans to start a family.
Rookies was taken on by new ownership, a pair of business partners named Tony and Joe.
Tony, who declined to give his last name, said in an interview Wednesday that the pair “bought it because we saw an opportunity there.”
However, “as time went on, we realized it’s a young person’s game. We were approached by a younger group that had a lot of energy and a lot of ideas, and they wanted to do something that I feel the town would embrace.”
The bar was sold again in March to Frank Antonetti, Lou Cohen, Jay Janawsky and Ryan Sipp.
The new owners have since begun remodeling, taking down the iconic, black sign that sported “Rookies Sports Club” in red lettering. Instead, a new sign hangs above the door, reading, “Closed, but still awesome.”
In an interview Wednesday, Cohen said that a new sports bar is being built. It still hadn’t been named as of deadline Wednesday, but Cohen said the group plans to announce a name next week.
Cohen said the group plans to open the new bar in four to six weeks. He said there will be both indoor and outdoor seating, totalling 50-60 seats. Plans also include eight 65-inch TVs, and a 100-inch projector screen. Further entertainment will be provided by a selection of games, including an 18-foot shuffleboard, foosball, bubble hockey and a photo booth.
“It’s going to be a sports bar, but not your average sports bar,” Cohen said. “We knew this town needed something more eventful so that’s really going to be the vibe here.”
As for the menu, Antonetti, of Huntington, said the eatery is going to offer traditional bar food with a twist.
“There will be craft cocktails, craft beer, some cool, fun stuff,” he said. It will be “a place for the casual neighborhood to come down, watch the game, have fun, and relax.”