By Raiza Giorgi
When Randy Opaugh and his son Drew Opaugh with their good friend Cliff Rhea decided to open a restaurant it was way before the COVID-19 pandemic started. They envisioned a dining experience like they all had growing up, family style with games and a place to watch sports with friends.
“We started in August of 2019 planning out what we wanted,” Rhea said. “A combination of a sports bar with family-style eating and fun games to bring people together like air hockey, pool and basketball. There aren’t any of these places around.”
They named their place 1525 Taps and Sports and started construction, which took them into 2020, and they were set to open in April. They were perplexed when COVID-19 hit in March and the shutdowns came, but viewed it as a time to get their plans in place to when they could open figuring it would last only a few weeks.
“We finally got to open in September of 2020, which was a crazy time to open, but we could have limited capacity dining at that point,” Randy Opaugh said. “Thankfully we were open during the World Series which helped us survive through October into November.”
Their restaurant is empty of people inside now, but the walls are full of sports memorabilia from legends in many arenas from football, baseball, boxing, hockey and local legends. They also plan on hosting the local teams and want to display their accomplishments when school sports goes back in session as well.
The trio did say their kitchen has helped them get through this time, which they thought would only be an addition to their wine, beer and mocktail selection.
The kitchen is run by Drew Opaugh who has many years of experience in the food industry working at many other local restaurants.
“We created out menu with everyone in mind,” Drew Opaugh said. “We wanted a place where parents felt comfortable taking their kids and not worrying about if they can find something for them to like. We have good comfort food and source our menu as local as possible.”
He added that they wanted the best wings in town and had their staff bring their wing recipes to try out and everyone voted on which were the best. They have the traditional choices of sauces and alternatives like Jerk Chicken Wings.
“We bake our wings, we don’t fry them which keeps a lot more of the moisture and flavor in them,” Drew Opaugh said.
They also have salads and sandwiches of their own creation, like the Gobbler with smoked turkey, bacon, roasted onion and cranberry cream cheese. (Is your mouth watering yet?).
All their sandwiches are made on bread from Birkholm’s Bakery to keep it even more local.
“Especially during this time we all need to support local as much as possible. Otherwise how will anyone survive this,” Rhea said.
Rhea was so excited to create this space with the Opaughs because he is a huge sports fan and said he wanted some place to go with his kids and team members. Rhea helps coach various activities and is especially involved in the S.Y. Pony Baseball league.
“We were hoping to do a grand opening, but that will have to wait for now,” he said. “Until then, we will operate to-go. Everyone who has come in so far has been waiting to get back to normal to come in to watch their favorite sports teams and have a meal with friends. We will get there again.”
1525 Taps and Sports is located at 1525 Mission Drive in Solvang near Lemo’s. The restaurant’s hours are 12 to 7 p.m. and it is closed on Tuesdays. For more information and to see their menu visit their Facebook page.