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Washington Voices

The Roadhouse a hit right out of the chute

There’s a new place in town for the cowboy crowd to kick up its heels, toss back a few and take a spin on Yo Mama.

That’s the mechanical bull at The Roadhouse, which opened in November at 20 N. Raymond Road, across from the old U-City mall.

The bar and grill, formerly Hotties Nightclub, took two months of renovation and a complete overhaul to turn it into an establishment owner Fred Lopez could hang his hat on.

“When I bought the place I thought about doing a nightclub but it was junk,” he said. “There was nothing worth keeping.”

Lopez said he spent about $250,000 in improvements, replacing everything from the floors and bar to the sound system and lights.

But the vision for its vibe, he said, belongs to general manager Allison Sattin.

“She manages and makes most of the day-to-day decisions,” he said. “Without Allison and our staff, it would not be possible.”

With a full bar, $5 food menu, $3 Yo Mama rides (or two rides for $5), swing and line dancing, billiards, arcade games and a rotating mix of live, DJ or karaoke music, there’s plenty to please anyone looking for a good time.

“It’s clean, good fun…It’s very honky-tonk,” said Sattin, adding that they aimed “to fill a niche in Spokane Valley where there’s not a lot to do.”

Since opening, the bar has featured local acts like Luke Jackson, The Ryan Larsen Band and The Bobby Bremer Band. For Feb. 16, they’ve booked Seattle band Aces Up.

They also cater to the karaoke crowd, with Al and Sheri Wilson running Rock Star karaoke every Sunday night. Every singer who braves the stage gets to spin a wheel to win something, like discounts and free drinks, Lopez said.

On other evenings, DJ Camo provides dancing tunes – mostly country with a little Southern rock.

Additionally, the bar offers $5 per person swing and line dancing lessons from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursdays, and is planning to host a swing dancing competition soon.

“We have good swing dancers,” said Lopez.

This summer, Lopez said they’ll take the fun outside with outdoor seating, music events and tournaments on the already-installed volleyball court.

As far as running a business goes, this isn’t Lopez’s first rodeo. He also owns The Ref, a sports bar he opened in March last year at 14208 E. Sprague Ave., near The Fitness Center, which he also owns with partners Gene Cavender and Joey Fenske.

Last summer, when Lopez bought the box-shaped restaurant that begged to become a roadhouse-style bar, he said he expected it to be successful but didn’t anticipate an instant hit. They’ve already had to turn away customers on a couple of weekend nights because the 8,500-square-foot bar was at capacity.

“The biggest surprise is how busy we are on Fridays and Saturdays. The first night it was crazy,” said Lopez, noting that their clientele is a mixed-age group with slightly more women than men “They’re off the ranch almost,” he said. “They’re well-behaved, good-looking customers.”

The staff, added Sattin, is part of the draw. “We have a good-looking staff behind the bar … It’s a fun staff. We sell fun here.”