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January 22, 2013

BUSINESS: 'Bottoms Up' club caters to diverse Jacksonville crowds

A family affair, the club is owned by parents and employs sibling bartenders

JACKSONVILLE — Most nights, it's your basic friendly, local pub. There are pool tables, bar games and reasonable drink specials. Many of the same customers return night after night.

However, if you venture in on Wednesday, you might find yourself smack dab in the middle of a sizable "Ladies Night" crowd.

Then, of course, there are the local deejays who arrive on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays — bringing with them the requisite dance club atmosphere. "Dance Fridays" are popular here. But the club has no set form of music. The musical stylings differ from night to night.

This is Bottom's Up, an ever-morphing club that tries to cater to the diverse and evolving tastes of a multi-racial, Jacksonville crowd. It opens every day at 4 p.m. and is located adjacent to ExtendaSuites in the 1400 block of East Rusk Street.

And lest the lewd-minded get other ideas, the "Bottoms Up" title is patterned after the phrase one utters before finishing up a drink — such as a martini or beer.

The club, which has been open about seven years, is a lot of fun, the owners said.

"Really, you never know what you'll get here," said co-owner Laura White with a smile. "We welcome everybody. We get a lot of customers who are workers from area businesses. There are pipeline employees and many other people. We're a small community bar that allows customers to come in and unwind and enjoy a mixture of music and fun."

The place is co-owned by Robert White and Laura White, who are described by colleagues as having an eye toward giving back to their community.

Robert White, a former member of the U.S. Armed Forces with a background in law enforcement, founded the business on the philosophy of acceptance and no conflict. There is, for instance, a staunch "no-weapons" policy.

"The purpose of the club when we first opened it was to create a place in Jacksonville where people — anyone — could go to relax," Robert White said. "We had just moved here from California and I was retired. I wanted this club to be a really nice thing, where people could go after work and have a drink and sit down and socialize. I wasn't looking for it to become something big or make a lot of money off it."

Security is a main club concern for Robert White, who is not afraid to send everyone home and close up if he has to, his wife said.

"Security means stopping problems before they happen," she said.

The Whites' sons, brothers Jostin, 23 and Joseph, 20, work as bartenders there, practicing new forms of mixology to create exciting drinks for patrons. Jostin in particular is famous for learning who customers are quickly having their favorite drink ready and waiting when they walk in the door.

Additionally, the club has a "host party" that allows outside organizers to earn a commission in exchange for bringing in large groups of people for various occasions.

"It's an incentive for people to try really hard and hustle to make it happen," Laura White said.

Speaking of security, there are two guards on staff who are there to keep the peace during the more populated evenings,

"Everybody knows who we are," said security guard Bryley McCrary, a friendly 21-year-old who has worked there about a year.

In addition to the drink prices and interesting people, there might be a few extra and interesting surprises for patrons. At some point, a waitress just might surprise you with her physical prowess by climbing up one of the poles on the dance floor as if she were Spider Man. Customers like to try shimmying up the pole, too with varying degrees of success.

 

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