MELBOURNE, Fla. – On April 8, Bear Deardoff relaunched Foo Bar in downtown Melbourne.
It was a homecoming of sorts. Deardoff worked security, behind the bar and in several other jobs at Foo Bar for years before moving across New Haven Avenue to Debauchery, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
He’s hoping to return the lounge to the forefront among downtown hangouts, a place it occupied for several years after opening in January 2006.
“I’m extremely optimistic,” Deardoff said.
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After more than a decade of working at bars and clubs in Melbourne, Deardoff is well-known downtown. He left the area, though not the Space Coast, during the COVID-19 pandemic to help in the family automotive business on Merritt Island.
He had planned to get a fire safety inspector certification 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 completely recovered, and was 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 monthly Foo Dog Days events, which raised money for the Brevard Humane Society.
Former FLORIDA TODAY entertainment writer Breuse Hickman described it this way in a 2007 story:
The crowd: Cool-looking people pleasantly mingle with young professionals. You feel comfortable, whether chilling and sipping a brew or passing out business cards.
The atmosphere: The entrance, with its sculptures and landscaping, is proof enough you aren’t in dive-land any more. You can sit in the darker enclaves of the porch, but most choose the inside, which is better lit and never so dark you can’t see who might be approaching. It makes for good people-watching.
“It was like Studio 54,” said Mo Long, who worked at various restaurants in the area in the early 2000s and used to spend time at Foo Bar.
Deardoff wants to bring that high-end atmosphere back.
“I want Foo Bar to be a firm staple in the community,” he said. “I want it to be roots for people. I want for people to know they have a cool place to go.”
Foo Bar is a cocktail lounge, he said, not a club. It’s a place to have drinks before going out to dinner at a nearby restaurant or before seeing a play. Tucked into an alley just east of Meg O’Malley’s, it has an intimate, exotic air, with retro murals on the walls of an outdoor courtyard and dark wood and tin ceilings inside.
Eventually, Deardoff wants to host events again, maybe raise money for animal welfare charities.
For now, though, he’s 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 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. Well-behaved dogs are welcome.