Ain’t life grand |

Ain’t life grand

Cassie Pence
Vail Daily/Preston UtleyThe interior of the newly remodeled Sandbar in West Vail.

When you walk into Sandbar Sports Grill in West Vail, you instantly notice how bright and polished the place looks.As the name expresses, the new decor is much like that of a watering hole near the ocean: light wood tables and chairs, sand-colored floor, barn wood and red brick covered walls, fish and a surfboard adornments. The renovation speaks well of the bar’s staff, who’ve been living a little like vampires the last three months, laboring away after-hours, preparing the bar for the grand opening. Almost all of the staff from the Half Moon Saloon remain.”Everyone stepped up to the plate during renovation,” Dan Van Brummelen said, who is one of the founding fathers of the new establishment and had worked for the Half Moon for two years prior.When the space became available, Van Brummelen tipped off his buddies Eric Leitstein and Joe Longo, who own two other Sandbars in San Diego and Coconut Grove, Fla. Snowboarding here for years, Leitstein and Longo seized the opportunity to own a bar in one of their favorite places in the world. Leitstein and Longo refer to the Vail Valley as “Pleasantville,” and share the same sentiment about the valley as longtime locals. Mark Phelps, general contractor and visionary for the new look, Jason Barber, Tony Eisel and Dennis Lavezzi can also take credit for the rebuilding.

Leitstein and Longo also own the Canes Bar and Grill in San Diego. The bar has been booking national acts for about eight years, including Sublime and Sugar Ray. The Sandbar staff will pull from those resources to host a dynamic lineup of music.”We are trying to continue the standard of music that the Half Moon set,” Van Brummelen said.Brummelen said he plans to schedule different types of music, something for everyone. He will sustain hosting Cajun bands and has booked Henry Parsons Project, Toaster and Funk Junkies for later this summer.

The new menu features Baja-inspired dishes, including fish and shrimp tacos and the grilled mahi melt – grilled wheat bread stuffed with a mahi fillet, cheddar cheese, cabbage, jalapeno white sauce and tomato. And just like Baja, Sandbar has hurricanes. The rum-infused beverage comes in five categories at Sandbar – higher the category, stronger the storm.”We’ve also mixed in a few local favorites like the green chili and meat loaf sandwich,” Van Brummelen said.Sandbar also offers classic Mexican, like burritos, tequila fajitas and a carnitas plate, to name a few.Third-generation Minturnite Jim Hoza has spent more hours in the bar’s location than probably most of the employees. The barstool fixture thinks the menu is an improvement.”You can get anything you want, tacos, seafood, gravy and fries,” Hoza said.Hoza, by the way, has an open-plate policy on his French fries; anyone is welcome to swing by and snatch one up.He’s just one of the bar’s fixtures that has remained sitting and drinking since the change.”It’s a bar that serves quick food, there’s plenty of booze, there’s pool, ping pong, video games and even shuffle board,” Hoza said. “It’s a neighborhood bar.”Grand opening, todayOfficial Hot Summer Nights after-party with Kynda, a groove-delic funk rock bandSpecials on Bud and Bud Light

Sandbar Sports Grill2161 North Frontage Road476-4314Open Monday-Friday at 11 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. for brunch

Monday – Open Mic NightTuesday – Two for Tuesdays (Two tacos, Two drinks, Two songs)Wednesday – Hump day, funk music dayThursday – West Vail Bar Tag (play tag between Sandbar and Bullcrabs and win prizes)Friday – Live musicSaturday – Live music Sunday – Reggae night

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