According to Upperlandings Bar and Grill owner, Bob Holbrook, that was the remedy to transforming the poor reputation that plagued the establishment under former name, Chasers.
But having a top notch resumé with experience in the restaurant scene all over the country only proved helpful in taking over the business.
“This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, to turn this place around and I’ve been running bars for 17 years,” Holbrook said.
Holbrook’s father bought the business located at 324 West Broadway in 1984, but at the time settling down in upstate New York was not on the table for Holbrook.
Instead, he lived in various places throughout the country working in different levels of restaurant work and cooking with illustrious chefs.
“I’ve cooked all over the United States of America. I worked at the Hilton with a French chef, I worked at Applebees as a waiter, I worked at Ruby Tuesday’s training all the cooks, I bounced around the country for a while… California, Florida, Vermont, New Hampshire, Seattle, Washington – I actually worked at Pikes Place Market in the fish market when I was younger,” he explained.
When his father passed away in 2002, Holbrook briefly returned to Fulton to settle estate and eventually sold his father’s three local bar businesses.
He then returned to Florida where he was living at the time, but shortly after found the two businesses he sold failing in the modest city of Fulton.
“Both proprietors here… had failed; they were behind on taxes, so we took both buildings back over. I said, if I was going to come back, I was going to stay so I took this place over. I saw potential in it even though it had gotten a bad reputation for quite a few years,” Holbrook said.
And the only way to turn around a failing bar business with a bad reputation: food, according to Holbrook.
“I knew I had to reintroduce this place as a good eatery,” he said.
So, Holbrook took the business back over in 2009 under its former name, Chasers and began making changes including significant remodeling, a new vision, and an extensive food menu.
A year or so after the transition in ownership, Holbrook changed the name to Upperlandings Neighborhood Bar and Grill, “home of the belly busting Philly cheese steak.”
After adding a dining area, replacing all the windows, building a generous sized deck complete with horseshoe pits outside, revamping the restrooms, and displaying pictures of Fulton history along the walls, Upperlandings became a one stop shop for good food, drinks, and family fun.
“There was nothing when I took over, not one table, booth, fan, nothing. It’s a family friendly place now,” he said. “There’s dining in the front of the building so families don’t have to walk through the bar. I would say 85% of the people that come here, come to eat.”
With a unique menu featuring several signature dishes such as a tex mex quesadilla, sheppards pie burger, a “whatcha like burger” in which customers can create their own burger masterpiece, a kids menu, and a renowned Philly cheese steak sandwich, there’s sure to be something for everyone.
“I actually wrote the menu before I even got here,” Holbrook said. “There’s a lot of original recipes, but there’s really something for every taste. We have barbecue pulled pork, burgers, cold and hot sandwiches, wings, appetizers, all that but we also have wraps, salads and veggie options like a veggie Philly for someone who may not want any meat, so there’s really a little bit of everything.”
Great selection paired with affordable pricing is a promise at Upperlandings.
“It’s really a lot of bang for your buck, almost everything on the menu is under ten dollars,” he continued.
As one of only two people to work the grill, Holbrook ensures a quality outcome in all food prepared.
But if you’re looking for a place to grab a drink and watch the game, Upperlandings is still your place.
A full scale bar selection of beer, wine and liquor, the NFL ticket to watch any team during football season on any one of nine TVs throughout the bar, nearly 20 wing varieties including the signature Upperlandings sauce and the ability to customize your own, there’s enough to draw a crowd even without the sports specials.
“The NFL ticket is a big hit because people like being able to watch their team, so we offer 50 cent wings and beer bucket specials during football season. But we get a lot for SU basketball, or college basketball in general too,” Holbrook said.
Even if you’re not a sports fan, happy hour specials from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday provide 50 cent wings and 50 cents off all bottles and cans of beer for anyone looking to unwind.
The entire sports bar feel is complete with a pool table, darts, a jukebox and two horseshoe pits.
And if you want a ready meal to enjoy in the comfort of your own home, Upperlandings even provides take out.
Some day, Holbrook said he plans to get a catering truck to extend his food services to cater events and parties.
Currently, the only problem facing Upperlandings is limited space which Holbrook intends to combat by revamping the kitchen area including a larger grill to be able to make more food.
But the improvements wont end there, in fact, the options are endless for the future of Upperlandings. Holbrook intends to continue renovations to revamp the floors, the bar area, and the kitchen, repaint and then will start looking into installing a large TV on the deck and more entertainment options such as live music nights.
In any circumstance, Upperlandings plans to continue to serve the Fulton community both at the restaurant location on West Broadway and through community involvement.
Upperlandings has catered the Tunes in June event in Fulton as well as the annual Jazz Fest for four years with no intent to stop, Holbrook has also used his business to sponsor a city league softball team.
That’s why, despite years of traveling and work experience across the country, Holbrook decided Fulton would be the place to settle down and run his business.
“There’s a lot of good people in Fulton,” he said. “Contrary to what people say, there’s really a lot of wonderful people in Fulton. I’ve made a lot of wonderful friends and loyal customers, I’ve always had a lot of people in my corner helping me out. Everything I’ve done here, I can thank my friends for because they’re the ones who helped me do it.”
To get a taste of Upperlandings Neighborhood Bar and Grill, stop by 324 West Broadway during summer hours: Tuesday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (grill closes, bar stays open until 2 a.m. with fried food available) and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. The bar and grill will be open on Mondays during football season. Or to place an order for take out, call 593-FOOD (3663).