by VERONICA GORDON
James Rios is hoping to hit a home run with his new business in downtown Kyle.
Rios, an Austin bar scene veteran, is opening the first bar to hold a mixed beverage permit in the city of Kyle since the town went “wet” in May.
“I’m hoping our model and what we do will allow others to come and see how it’s done the right way,” Rios said of his new establishment, Center Field Sports Bar. “For us it’s about proper service, good food and just a wonderful atmosphere.”
Rios, who once played football at Howard Payne University, started working in the nightclub industry when he was just 19 years old. He worked at a bar one summer in Austin and was instantly hooked on the business.
“I decided to stay in Austin and that’s what I was going to do for the rest of my life,” he said. “I was going to be in the nightclub industry from then on.”
Rios worked his way through some of the smallest bars to the biggest bars in Austin and Dallas.
“I’ve pretty much learned the bar business inside and out,” Rios said while finalizing blueprints with his contractor this week.
Center Field is located in the Old Town Gift Emporium building at 200 W. Center St. Rios, who also owns Cielo nightclub in Austin, wants Center Field to be much different than his Latin-based bar.
“My goal was always to be in this area with a sports bar, something different for this community that’s not simply a bar, or just a restaurant that serves drinks,” he said.
Center Field will have 13 TVs for showing sports programs and other special events such as pay-per-view fights and wrestling matches.
“When there’s no sporting events on we’re going to do things like movie nights,” Rios said. “We want to create a family environment up until about nine o’clock at night.”
Rios plans to keep the existing look and feel of the exposed brick interior and high ceilings. He will add a large chalkboard to one wall, so children can draw and write while their parents dine.
“I love the historic value of this place,” Rios said. “I love the look of it. I don’t want to change the look of the building. I’m a very firm believer in simple, but elegant.”
The bar will be made of natural stone and resemble the old style of the building.
“It’s going to be modern, without modernizing everything,” he said. The modernization includes the addition of bathroom stalls in both the men’s and women’s restrooms, he added.
The menu is simple, but extensive, Rios said. The food will all be made from scratch, including gluten-free pizza. Rios hired two executive chefs from Houston to develop the menu at reasonable prices. The drinks will feature local spirits and local beers, Rios added.
“It’s an entirely new concept for this area,” Rios said. “So far, everyone in Kyle seems to be willing to embrace what’s coming in. We want to keep it clean, fun and entertaining for everyone. I would love to have someone in a business suit come in and be able to interact with someone wearing golf clothes. We want everyone to come in and enjoy themselves.”
Rios hopes to be open by Dec. 8 in order to show the Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez re-match.
“We hope to be here 10 to 15 years and be a staple of the community,” he said. “It’s going to be a very relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.”
Center Field will be open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to midnight and Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.