Since early November, when the University of Central Florida’s most popular plaza for college bars was demolished, students have worried for the future of UCF nightlife, said Valencia College student Ryan Hock, but the new Bar and Grill “The Station” is making students excited for the Spring semester.
“Now that The Station opened things around here are definitely going to get better,” said Hock. “It’s just going to be way more fun now.”
The Evolve Group LLC bar and grill opened Monday morning in the University Commons plaza at the corner of Alafaya Trail and Corporate Boulevard.
Even though The Station is located near the UCF main campus, Owner Mikey “Stlyez” Rubino said it is a family-friendly restaurant during the day, but a 21+ bar past 10 p.m. with no exceptions.
Rubino admits that if his bar would accept people under the age of 21, he could bring in about 20 percent more business. “20 percent more business, but 100 percent more problems,” said Rubino. “It’s just not worth it.”
“We feel there is a market out there which isn’t being reached; the 21+ crowd,” said Manager Matt Denuzzo. He said that despite being a 21+ bar in a college town, there were about 1,600 people who came through the door on Monday. “We did really well,” said Denuzzo.
The bar is located in the same plaza as college bar “Mad Hatters.” When asked if he felt there was competition, Rubino replied, “I wouldn’t call it competition. I think we balance each other out. Mad Hatters is a 18+ college bar that has a different feel than The Station.”
“The entire bar cost $2 million to build,” said Rubino. “The construction took about a year and a half. We built it from the ground up. The building literally had no floors. No plumbing,” said Denuzzo. He added, “We just wanted to set the bar a little higher for UCF (nightlife).”
Hock said “Yeah I was waiting for it to open for forever, but I guess all that time really paid off. It’s really nice. I feel like I’m going to go there the most now. It’s just classier.” Hock added, “It kind of looks like a 50s diner, but modernized.”
UCF student Natalie Gardner said, “It’s one of the nicer places to go locally. I think it’s what we needed. It has a downtown feel to it.”
Both Rubino and Denuzzo said that the most difficult part of opening The Station was preparing the restaurant. “We’ve never managed food before, but everything turned out great,” added Denuzzo. “People love the food though,” said Rubino.
“It’s really the big picture. The food’s great, the staff is great. The bar costs over $1 million and it shows. Everything’s brand new,” said Denuzzo when he talked about why The Station was going to be so great.
Garnder also talked about the staff. “I love the staff. Most of them have worked like two years at another club. Everyone’s pretty experienced,” she said.
Matt Denuzzo also talked about doing future “block parties” in the plaza they are located in. Ryan Hock said he’s not sure if the location is good enough for such events, but Denuzzo is confident they will be successful. “We have some ideas that have never been done before,” he said, “You can guarantee that we’re going to be doing pretty next level stuff.”
Mikey Rubino also has plans to bring in talent to the bar. “We (Evolve Group LLC) book talents for a living so we definitely expect a lot of talented people there,” said Rubino.
“I think we’re at a great start. We’re going to continue to learn and continue to grow and hopefully become UCF’s biggest “hotspot”.