Bar-Eat-O opened its doors to the public on Jan. 12 and will have its grand opening sometime in the next couple of weeks. The Mexican restaurant and bar is located at 3 Bank St., the former location of the Vital Spot sports bar. The building underwent an extensive renovation beginning in summer 2015. According to district manager Jason Singer, the reception has been “fantastic.” He sees the restaurant as a potential gathering place for Geneseo students and village residents.
“We want to be a blend where locals can come in and college kids can come in,” Singer said. “I don’t think there’s that tie-in place yet. We want to be that tie-in place … and the food is the driving force. I mean, we do have a bar but it’s not the focus of the concept. The focus is the healthy, all-from-scratch Mexican food.”
Because Bar-Eat-O has not yet “officially” opened, the hours are still flexible, though the bar has been opening until about 9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 10 p.m. on Thursdays and 11 p.m.–12 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“Before we do our grand opening, we want to have Facebook set up, the web set up and all the hours of what our operations are,” Singer said. “We’re not even answering the phones to take phone orders yet, so we’re still in our honeymoon, feeling-out stage.”
Previous Vital Spot owners and brothers Luke and Paul Develder now own Bar-Eat-O. The Develders also run Ember Woodfire Grill in Livonia and fast casual pizzeria Pi Craft, which has locations in Henrietta and Tonawanda.
“The bar kind of got neglected,” Singer said. “[The Develders] were running their other endeavors and it was some time before the bar grew up with them … and now we have a highchair. Who would have thought the Vital Spot would have a highchair?”
In contrast to the Vital Spot, Singer described Bar-Eat-O as a restaurant first, similar to Chipotle or Moe’s Southwest Grill.
“Our meats are braised in-house with no fillers,” he said. “We grill our barbacoa and our pork for six hours in the restaurant, so we’re not getting things out of a bag and just heating [them].”
He added that a variety of menu items can be made vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free. “Being a vegan or whatever your options are, you shouldn’t have to eat just garbage or Ramen noodles every day because that’s your only option,” he said.
Singer also emphasized the importance of affordability. “We don’t want to out-price ourselves,” he said. “We want to be a place people can afford to come to multiple times a week.”
According to Singer, everything on the menu is under $8.
“I had a bowl with rice and beans. I thought it was really good,” senior Layna Gray said. “The service was quick.”
Gray added that Bar-Eat-O is a “start of the night” kind of bar.
“I think people would appreciate it if the bar was open later, but I understand wanting to be more of a restaurant than a bar,” she said. “I feel like more people are going to go there for dinner and a drink than an end of the night thing.”
Singer made a similar point. “Our goal is to be the first place you come up, not the last place you go out,” he said. “The music we play is not too loud or club-y and there’s no dartboard.”
He emphasized that the bar will check every ID.
“This bar has always been a late night bar and it’s just not what we’re doing anymore,” Singer added. “Let other places have that fun endeavor and we’re going to focus more on the food and the happy hour crowd.”