Foo Bar reopens in downtown Melbourne under new ownership
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On April 8, Bear Deardoff relaunched Foo Bar in downtown Melbourne.
It was a kind of homecoming. Deardoff worked in security, behind the bar and several other Foo Bar jobs for years before crossing New Haven Avenue for Debauchery.
He hopes to put the lounge back at the forefront of downtown hangouts, a spot he held for several years after it opened in January 2006.
“I’m extremely optimistic,” Deardoff said.
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After more than a decade of working in Melbourne’s bars and clubs, Deardoff is well known in the city centre. He left the area, but not the Space Coast, during the COVID-19 pandemic to help with the family’s car business on Merritt Island.
He had planned to get certified as a fire safety inspector and pursue that career field when his father, Michael Deardoff, approached him with another plan.
“My dad said, ‘FooBar…can we make money?’ “
The bar, which closed for the pandemic in March 2020, never fully recovered and was up for sale.
Father and son decided to go into business together.
In its early days, Foo Bar was known as a sophisticated place to meet friends and for events such as the monthly Foo Dog Days events, which raised funds for the Brevard Humane Society.
Former FLORIDA TODAY entertainment writer Breuse Hickman described it this way in a 2007 article:
The crowd: Cool people mingle nicely with young professionals. You feel comfortable, whether it’s relaxing and sipping an infusion or handing out business cards.
The atmosphere: The entrance, with its carvings and landscaping, is proof enough that you are no longer in diving country. You can sit in the darker enclaves of the porch, but most choose the interior, which is better lit and never so dark that you can’t see who might approach. It allows you to observe people well.
“It was like Studio 54,” said Mo Long, who worked at various restaurants in the area in the early 2000s and used to hang out at Foo Bar.
Deardoff wants to bring back that upscale atmosphere.
PICTURES: Foo Dog Days
“I want Foo Bar to be a staple in the community,” he said. “I want it to be roots for people. I want people to know they have a cool place to go.”
Foo Bar is a cocktail bar, he said, not a club. It’s a place to have a drink before going out to dinner at a nearby restaurant or before going to see a play. Tucked away in an alley just east of Meg O’Malley, it feels intimate and exotic, with retro murals on the walls in an outdoor courtyard and dark wood and pewter ceilings inside.
Eventually, Deardoff wants to host events again, perhaps raising money for animal welfare charities.
For now, however, he is happy to be back in downtown Melbourne and part of the community.
“People want to see the business succeed,” he said. “They want to see Foo Bar come back.”
Foo Bar is at 816 New Haven Ave., Melbourne, 321-802-5006, facebook.com/FooBarHistoricMelbourne. Hours of operation are 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Dogs with good behavior are welcome.
Suzy Fleming Leonard is a business journalist with over three decades of experience. Contact her at [email protected]. Find on Facebook: @SuzyFlemingLeonard or on Instagram: @SuzyLeonard
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