Jacksonville Daily Progress
After nearly a decade of hard work and good memories, the owners of popular Jacksonville tavern-nightclub “Bottoms Up” have decided it is time to close up and move on.
Robert and Laura White said this week that when their liquor license recently came up for renewal, they considered giving it another go, but ultimately decided enough was enough. Their decision was announced to their loyal pub audience Aug. 14.
“They say you have to know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em – and it was definitely time for us to fold,” Laura White explained with a laugh. “Our decision was made in part because business has been kind of slow. We also have been wanting to try out new business ideas. … But don't get us wrong: We have really enjoyed Jacksonville and everybody we worked with all this time. We will really miss everyone.”
Bottoms Up – located next to ExtendaSuites in the 1400 block of East Rusk Street – was a haven for fun-loving customers from pretty much every walk of life. On any given night, one could see pipe liners and city employees sitting next to pretty much anyone from any profession and chatting up a storm.
The tavern's trademark pool tables, bar games and reasonable drink specials and prices were a sure draw. Some of the patrons would bring food for others to try. It was said that this generous atmosphere stemmed from Robert and Laura White's philosophy of always helping or giving back to the community.
The tavern title “Bottoms Up” was patterned after the phrase one utters before taking a drink – such as a beer or a shot of whiskey.
The business itself was a family affair. Robert White's sister worked there as both a bartender and cashier and Whites' sons, brothers Jostin, 23, and Joseph, 20, were bartenders there.
Jostin in particular practiced new forms of mixology to create exciting drinks for patrons. He also was the bartender who knew just about every regular customer and had that person's favorite drink ready and waiting after he or she came in the front door.
Robert White's personal business emphasis was on bar security. A former member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Robert White had a background in law enforcement.
Robert White founded the business on the philosophy of acceptance and no conflict. He had an iron clad “no-weapons” policy, and never was afraid to send all customers home and close up the bar completely for the night if he had to.
After dark, the local pub would occasionally shift to an alternate function, such as, perhaps, the DJ-performing atmosphere of a club.
At all times, the facility catered to the diverse and evolving tastes of a multi-racial, Jacksonville crowd.
Now that they've decided to close, family members say they plan to move to California after a six-month transitional period.
“Really, we actually have a life out there already,” Laura White said. “We left some things pending – business transactions and family,” she said. “My husband is retired and he wants to travel. Joey will finish up TJC (Tyler Junior College) and transfer from there to San Diego State. Jostin is looking at maybe joining the (U.S.) Marines right now.”
This week, Robert White posted a special message on Facebook to all loyal patrons thanking them for their affection, support and patronage.
“You guys are like our family,” he wrote. “To all friends, employees, and to all that touched our lives: We decided to end this chapter and start a new adventure.”