Co-owners of the new Morro Sports Bar & Grill are Kristen Ryder (left) and Sharruss Humlicek, posing here behind the beautiful wooden bar at their new restaurant. Photo by Neil Farrell
Morro Bay’s newest waterfront eatery, located in its newest development, offers traditional fare from a spots bar and grill — with a twist.
Sharrus Humlicek, one of the owners of Morro Grill Sports Bar, located upstairs at Morro Bay Landing, 1215 Embarcadero, has been working in restaurants most of her life. “Since I was 15,” she says while sitting in the sunny dining room a few minutes before opening for the day. The other owners are Kristen Ryder and the folks who own Beach Burger in the 500 block of Embarcadero. And those folks also own Laguna Grill in San Luis Obispo, so the team behind Morro Grill have a wealth of restaurant knowledge.
Setting up shop in the Morro Bay Landing site was unusual. That’s because the place was fully furnished with tables, chairs, bars, counters and a magnificent solid redwood bar that was hewn by a logging outfit in Cambria for the first person that tried to open in the spot. And, the second restaurant to open there was the short-lived Rock Taco, which unfortunately didn’t catch on.
As anyone who’s ever opened a restaurant could tell you, the trickiest most expensive thing is the kitchen. Fortunately for Ryder and Humlicek, there was already a full kitchen there, though she says they did have to do some reconfiguring and bring in some special equipment needed for their diverse menu offerings.
They specialize in the typical foods one might expect at a sports bar — burgers, chicken, sandwiches, soups, salads, and various rice bowls — but they expanded that basic fare.
“It’s sports bar and grill food with a twist,” she explains, “and some healthier options.”
They will soon have finalized their beer and wine license too, and she says they plan to offer several local beers on tap and local wines too. “We will also be doing wine cocktails and mock-tails,” she says, laughing when this reporter looks puzzled. Mock-tails?
“Those are non-alcoholic mixed drinks,” she says with a chuckle.
They have a staff of about 10, she says. The two main owners don’t just supervise the operation, they run the place, too, taking orders and working the floor. The dining room sports five, big screen TVs, tuned in of course to sports coverage. Watching NFL, NBA, NHL or MLB will be PDC (pretty darn cool) sitting at that fabulous wooden bar and following the action on the big screens.
“We plan to have some TVs out on the patio too,” she says. When they started forming the idea and business model for Morro Grill, they searched for something new.
“We did a lot of research,” Humlicek says, studying the more than 23 restaurants along the Embarcadero and coming up with a place that doesn’t steal anything from existing establishments. “We did a lot of research on what was needed here,” she says, adding that their goal isn’t to compete directly with any of their neighboring restaurants. They put together a combination that she says, “Is a little different. It sets us apart.”
They are still a work in progress. “We have a lot of plans for this place,” Humlicek says. Among the changes will probably be additions to the sizable rear patio, which has one of the best views of the yachts docked below, and of Morro Rock.
Since their quiet opening Jan. 1 the responses just form basically word of mouth has been really good. “So far,” Humlicek says, “the response has been better than we expected.”
She says they’ve gotten so much support from locals, they already are starting to build up some “regulars,” which is a key for success with a sports bar.
But being busy from the get-go, “It’s a great problem to have,” she says.