Jolly Roger transforms bar into family-friendly eatery

Nate Howard’s most recent endeavor is all about family. He relocated to the area from Venice, Fla., to be closer to his parents. His brothers came along to help turn around renovations of the building where Howard planned to open a restaurant and, together, they’re reinventing Ocean View’s former Backstreet Cafe as a family-friendly sports bar and grill, The Jolly Roger.

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor: General manager of The Jolly Roger, Nate Howard (left) sits in the restaurant's new dining room along with brother, Roger. The brothers shaped up a new Ocean View treat into a family-friendly sports bar and grill, replacing the former Backstreet Cafe, jusCoastal Point • Jesse Pryor
General manager of The Jolly Roger, Nate Howard (left) sits in the restaurant's new dining room along with brother, Roger. The brothers shaped up a new Ocean View treat into a family-friendly sports bar and grill, replacing the former Backstreet Cafe, jus

“The restaurant business is something I absolutely love,” said Howard, who has been in the industry for nearly 15 years, “and this project brings everything together.”

Originally from upstate New York, Howard has moved along the nation’s east coast to manage a variety of restaurants, including a Bob Evans in Dover. But the Jolly Roger will be his first one-of-a-kind restaurant, a departure from the franchises he’s grown accustomed to managing.

“The whole thing just fell into my lap,” he admitted. “I was just visiting my parents, and the visit turned into a permanent situation when I learned they were selling Backstreet. The price was right, and my brothers and I always wanted a sports bar and grill.”

His brother Roger, an electrical consultant in California, is the new owner of the property and the new restaurant’s namesake. Their other brother, Tim, runs a painting business in northern Kentucky. But it was all hands on deck last week, as the family worked to prepare The Jolly Roger for its debut.

Years spent working in restaurants have definitely prepared Nate Howard for his latest venture, as he wasted no time fixing up a menu, aiming to cater to all who step foot inside.

“Our food is going to be incredible,” he said. “We’ll have plenty of good seafood, but none of it is going to be pre-breaded – it’s all battered to order. We’re going to use a great seafood batter that’s been a family recipe for generations.”

Patrons will be able to sink their teeth into original crab and artichoke dips, as well as comfort foods, such as meatloaf, chicken cordon bleu and strip steak.

“We’ve even got wings with four killer sauces: buffalo, honey barbeque, teriyaki or garlic parmesan,” he noted.

Being in the industry has taught Howard about a multitude of creative aspects in the kitchen.

“Basically, what I’ve done is taken the best of the best from all the restaurants I’ve worked with and tweaked it a little, along with some family recipes,” he said.

Of course, he has also brought in some outside help for his culinary creations.

“Our chef’s from Brazil and has cooked all over. He has great experience, and working here will give him the creative freedom to do what he knows how to do.”

Unlike Backstreet Cafe, The Jolly Roger will offer breakfast every day at 7 a.m. The lunch and dinner menu will follow those breakfast options, with the restaurant’s hours running through 1 a.m. in the morning, except Tuesdays during the off-season, when he’ll close for the day.

“We’ve still got the bar and the pool table,” Howard pointed out, “but we put up half a dozen flat-screens to watch the games. We’re just looking to go above and beyond people’s normal expectations of a restaurant atmosphere.”

With unchanged drink prices, and an expanded beer and liquor selection, patrons can expect the same great atmosphere that Backstreet brought, plus much more. Nightly dinner specials, a new virtual jukebox and plenty of evening entertainment transform The Jolly Roger into a friendly environment for anyone.

“The biggest thing I want people to know is that we’re a sports bar and grill for the whole family,” said Howard. “Backstreet had a reputation as a biker bar, which didn’t really fit the community. Our goal is to fit in. We welcome families at dinner, drinkers at night and everyone in between.

“I just want to change the public’s perception of the place,” he emphasized. “The Jolly Roger is a wholesome, family-friendly place to eat and enjoy yourself.”

Howard plans to bring in live music, DJ’s, karaoke and the steadily growing World Poker Tour as nighttime entertainment.

Once warmer weather rolls around, Howard said he will open seven days a week, but for now, Tuesdays off will suffice for him. He also anticipates that the location, just off Cedar Neck Road, a short drive from either Route 1 or Route 26, will fare well during the warmer months.

“It’s a place for people to stop on their way in and out of town,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the season. Eventually, I even plan to put a slab out here with a patio for outdoor eating, but that will take some time.”

Although Roger Howard was heading back to the West Coast this week, he said he is pleased with the way his namesake restaurant has come along.

“I’m pretty excited,” said Roger. “It’s good to get family together, and our parents live right around the block. This ought to help us see each other more often.”

The Jolly Roger is located on Hickman Road, just off of Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View, just south of Magnolia’s Seafood Restaurant. The Jolly Roger is open six days a week, Wednesdays through Mondays. For more information, call The Jolly Roger at (302) 539-1494.