Rookies ready to kick off on west side

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SPRING HILL – Michelle and Billy Beetz have been approached several times over the last two years about opening up a second Rookies location in Hernando County.

The time now appears right as the couple is working to make that happen at the site of the former Passports brewery on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill: a location that hasn’t experienced much success since it first opened as St. Sebastiaan Belgian Microbrewery in 2001.

Since that time no less than three other restaurants have attempted to make a go of the 10,000-square-foot location, including Longshotz, Duke’s and most recently Passports. All have failed.

The location’s lack of success doesn’t scare the Beetzes.

The award-winning restaurant and pub will keep its family-oriented atmosphere with an expanded building and parking space, said Billy Beetz.

“We know what we do best as a family, and what we’ve done the last two years has been a success in the bar business,” he added.

The towering sign outside the second Rookies location will don a newly designed sign, and the expansive parking lot will allow the restaurant to continue holding outside fundraisers and events, they said.

“One thing we take pride in is serving the community,” he said. “We’ve done over 100 fundraisers and community events, raising tens of thousands of dollars, which we’ve given back to the community, schools, and sports teams.”

“We’ll continue to do that, and even bigger,” he added.

The sports bar and grill with the motto “where everyone is treated like an MVP” has more than 40 TVs and three big screens in its new location spanning across a main dining room, a private banquet room with overflow space and three levels of seating, darts, and pool tables overlooking a far-stretching bar that leads up to yet another formal banquet/conference room that staff has dubbed “the championship lounge.”

On weekends when live-entertainment is expected, the third level will be converted into a performance stage and the second level a dance floor, Billy Beetz said.

To accommodate the Hernando and Pasco clientele, it’s little wonder that behind the kitchen doors is a spacious walk around chef-table and a walk in freezer and cooler as sizable as a bus.

Food and drink menus will be exactly the same as the first Rookies location in Spring Hill, Billy Beetz said, and highway signs will be added around the new location to convenience southbound traffic on U.S. 19.

The brewery inside the new location is in the process of being subcontracted out to a brewery, Billy Beetz said, but that process has not yet been finalized.

There are also several familiar faces who will have a hand in the new Rookies location, notably managers DanaƩ Ciccone and Cheryl Sessa, kitchen and bar manager Chuckie Hinkle, but also a newly hired under chef.

“Since we opened two years ago, most of the staff we hired are still with us,” Michelle Beetz said. “We couldn’t do it without our staff. We have a very caring staff.”

The couple anticipates a soft-opening the third week of September, including an engagement party on Saturday for Justin Beetz of the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. The grand opening will soon follow, they said, around the end of the month.

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