Prepare to take a bite at Gators

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Over the past few years, restaurants such as Baron’s Pub and Java 149 have turned old downtown buildings into some of the city’s hottest social settings.

This fall, A.J. Gators will try to get a chomp on the action.

&uot;Suffolk’s the fastest growing city in the state,&uot; said owner Jeff Sharer. He and Al Zuhar own all eight Hampton Roads’ Gators sports bars, named by combining both their initials with their mutual love of the Florida University’s football team.

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&uot;We wanted to go downtown (in Suffolk),&uot; Sharer said. &uot;It has the enterprise zone; there’s all sorts of nice incentives for people like me.

&uot;There have been four, five, six successful restaurants downtown, and we’re trying to be the next one.&uot;

They decided on a building near the intersection of Washington and Saratoga Street, which in now in the process of being renovated. Construction has been going on for the past few weeks, and the sign is already up announcing the new eatery’s arrival.

&uot;We’ve got a really successful restaurant in Norfolk, and we’re in this for the long haul,&uot; Sharer said. &uot;We think Suffolk’s going to get bigger and better.

&uot;We got into an old building and fixed it up. We want to save the charm from 100 or 80 years ago.&uot;

The restaurant will offer dozens of televisions, pool tables, and other games, Sharer said. Just as in the Chesapeake Square location (the nearest Gators until now), there will be an electronic trivia game, and Texas Hold ‘Em (just for fun, no money involved) once a week.

&uot;We’re shooting to be open for the first week of football season,&uot; Sharer said.