Envy of the town

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Looking for love in a bar might not pan out for most singles. But Mark Sabadishin says it can happen.

Sabadishin has owned Bar Envy, a neighborhood club on the corner of Spring Hill Drive and Mariner Blvd., for 10 years. A single dad raising his 16-month-old daughter, Ava, Sabadishin was behind the bar when he met the woman who would, six years later, become his wife.

Sherri was a customer, Mark said, and the two became friends. “I think Sherri fell in love with Ava before me,” Mark added, chuckling. The two were married in January.

Sabadishin is a passionate, ambitious business owner who never saw himself in the role as owner of a club. Instead, he got his degree in business and criminal justice and dreamed of becoming a deputy.

“I used to come to this bar as a customer when it was Scorz,” Sabadishin said. “I always liked the atmosphere.”

When he learned Scorz was for sale, he became interested.

Ten years later and with a lifetime of experiences to draw from, Sabadishin doesn’t regret his decision. Nor has he completely deserted his law enforcement dream.

But loyal Bar Envy customers would attest to Sabadishin’s skill behind the bar, mixing drinks and pouring shots as he carries on conversations with each customer who walks in as if they were longtime friends.

Customer loyalty, Sabadisihin said, has made Bar Envy a mainstay in Hernando County.

Sabadishin changed the business’ name to Bar Envy in an effort to add younger people to the existing customer base. A family man with a daughter who was growing up, he decided to provide a place for teens to gather where they would be safe.

He created Teen Night on Monday evenings, molding the entertainment to fit with modern teen interests. The kids have a place to hang out that is secure and safe during the summer, he said. Teen Nights will restart again during summer break.

Bar Envy has become a local meeting spot where bands play on Friday nights. The Bob Hope Band – its namesake tended bar at Bar Envy – is a regular on the first Friday of each month.

“He won our Envy Idol contest,” Sabadishin said. And when the lead singer of a scheduled band failed to make a gig, Bob Hope stepped in. He later formed a band that plays regularly in the county.

Other bands that have become regulars at Envy include Borderline, Subpar Heroes and Martha Quinn.

Sabadishin is excited to welcome back another high-profile local band, Clenchfist, at Bar Envy on April 18.

Most other nights feature some kind of entertainment. Live DJs, karaoke, open jam nights, special events and holiday parties keep the schedule tight.

Bar Envy also is big on charity events and supports the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Sabadishin’s biological mother is a breast cancer survivor and his uncle recently beat prostate cancer.

Giving back to his community is important to Sabadishin. His staff promotes the Relay for Life cause, developing a team and holding regular events throughout the year to raise money.

Sabadishin fits well into the role of club owner – personable and skilled with his bartending talent. He said he built a strong local following by treating customers like family. “They like to come here because it is comfortable,” Sabadishin said.

He isn’t afraid to show his passion, especially as he speaks of his wife, Sherri; 8-year-old daughter, Ava; and 8-year-old live-in niece, Kera. Balancing the bar and his family life has been difficult at times, he said. But most nights he eats dinner with his family and tucks the kids into bed before heading to work.

“My dynamic staff is fully capable of running things while I’m away,” he said. Most have been with him for years.

Contemplating a move toward a different career, Sabadishin put the bar up for sale recently but stands firm on his plan to qualify the right buyer. Bar Envy has a strong hold on the community, he said.

The bar is like his baby but he doesn’t worry about its future. “It is the customers who built this bar,” he said.