Date published: 12/12/2010
BY BILL FREEHLING
A longtime Fredericksburg restaurateur has returned to the downtown scene with a saloon that pays homage to the classic rock music he grew up with.
Brian Hyland and his partners this past week opened The 909 Saloon at 909 Caroline St. Their official business name is Groovy Enterprises, a name that offers insight into the vibe they're trying to build.
The Caroline Street entrance bears no sign, a nod to Hyland's favorite Greenwich Village bars. There's a peace sign on the front door, and Beatles memorabilia is displayed next to lava lamps in the windows.
On the walls of the 2,200-square-foot space are hundreds of photos, record covers and concert tickets designed to tell the history of rock 'n' roll through names such as Muddy Waters, Elvis Presley, The Doors, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix.
Music plays from a sound system featuring a huge database of songs including 30 years' worth of Grateful Dead live concerts and 300 Phish shows. Kiss' "Destroyer" album is featured on the 13 bar stools. Five tables are at the front.
Hyland, whose tie-died business card lists him as The 909 Saloon's "guru," said it took him a couple of months to hang up all the memorabilia, most of which he has collected over decades of following rock music.
He said the decor aims to create an "emotional attachment" for customers, and that "the 'awesome' factor" was the test for what should be hung.
Hyland also has a business model in mind. The 909 Saloon will serve lunch and dinner and also late-night fare, which few other downtown restaurants do. The menu features appetizers, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and desserts.
Stu Faux, who also coaches a local swim team, came up with many of the recipes and built the 30-foot bar. The kitchen and offices are downstairs.
There's a TV in the bar, but Hyland said it will probably rarely show sports--other than games involving his beloved Boston Red Sox or Green Bay Packers, for whom his uncle, Bob Hyland, played in the late 1960s.
He plans to have live music in the back room and display local artwork. A yoga instructor is on staff, and plans are in the works for discussions of Grateful Dead lyrics on Tuesday nights, and reggae music on Mondays.
The 909 Saloon represents Hyland's third foray into the downtown food and bar business. He helped his father start the original Irish Brigade Restaurant on Princess Anne Street in the early 1980s, and for many years helped run J. Brian's Tap Room before selling his interest in that business to his brothers last year.
Hyland's partners in the new venture are three friends from his high school years--Keith Peer, Mike Pomatto and Rick Rian. He's excited to display to the public the items he has collected.
"I've been saving my whole life for this," Hyland said.
Bill Freehling: 540/374-5405