Game time for Chico bars

Some impending changes for University Bar, Quackers and Panama’s

I drive by the empty shell of The Graduate every day on my way home from work. When the spacious, family-friendly bar closed last year, I remember feeling bummed out. I rarely went there, so the bummer certainly wasn’t personal. But I empathize with others’ loss—in this case, for some it was a business, for others a job, and others still a beloved hangout.

So is the natural way of things, though. As one door closes, another opens, right? For Robert Mowry, a door opened. If you’ve cruised by the corner of Second and Wall streets in the past few months, you may have noticed work being done on Mowry’s University Bar. I don’t go there very often either—though I certainly frequented it when I first moved to Chico. Hey, it had pool tables! And cheap beer!

All that is about to change. Well, sort of. I called up Mowry earlier this week to get the scoop on the newly branded University Sports Bar, which is holding its grand-opening today (June 1). He explained that, while the U Bar was wildly popular when it first opened in 1997, it had frankly seen better days. And with the closure of The Graduate, he saw an opportunity to cater to sports fans who’d lost their cheering ground.

Here’s what we can expect: A refinished bar. Twelve televisions, including a 65-incher. New ceilings, as the old ones had been poked more than a few times with pool cues. The Buzztime sports trivia game. And, probably starting in July, an appetizer menu. Mowry also expects to change the hours to be open during most of the day, but in the next few weeks while finishing touches are tended to, expect the bar to be closed Sunday-Tuesday. What won’t change: There will still be pool tables and other games, along with 23 taps. Gone, however, will be the constant drink specials. “It’s going to be a change for the better,” Mowry says.

Wait, there’s more Mowry also happens to own Quackers Fire Grill & Bar on East Avenue, which opened a pool room last year. Things haven’t quieted down there quite yet, though.

Jon Scott, who owned and ran Casino Chico in the 1990s, held onto his card room permit and will be opening up shop inside Quackers. Mowry anticipates construction to begin next month.

The card room will be situated where Edwards used to be, with its entrance from the pool room, as pool and cards seem to fit well together. Mowry expects table games will be up and running by the end of August.

In the meantime, he’s enlisted the expertise of a structural engineer to design a rooftop patio for Quackers. Stay tuned for more on those plans as they progress.

One more thing “Any other news I should know?” I asked Mowry before saying goodbye. Sure is. He has plans to add outdoor seating in front of Panama Bar and Cafe—you know, where the teas are poured stiff. He’s expecting an engineering report today (June 1), which he’ll bring to the city for review. He hopes to break ground on that by fall.