William Jesel graduated from the University of Georgia in 1999. After living in Atlanta for some time, he moved back to Athens four years ago and opened The Local 706 last Thursday. This sports bar, which features a 700-square-foot patio, is the newest addition to the Five Points food scene.
The Red & Black talked to Jesel about his vision for his new bar, how it’s been affected by COVID-19 and the benefits of having outdoor patio space.
The Red & Black: What is your vision for The Local 706?
William Jesel: I really just saw an opportunity in Five Points. I feel like they have the higher-end market covered, but there was kind of a niche that’s being missed, a place you can go more than once a week, or maybe more than one a month, I should say, to have a more casual meal, watch a game, hang out with your friends, have a regular beer kind of place.
R&B: What kind of food do you serve?
WJ: I would say elevated bar food. It’s just going to be burgers, wings, flatbread, salads. But, you know, hopefully we’re doing a really good job with those basic things.
R&B: How has the opening process been affected by COVID-19?
WJ: A lot. I was hoping to be open last year, honestly, and it’s slowed down things a good bit … it was nearly impossible to get [contractors] to come out and do the work because of COVID … we did try to take a lot of precautions, try to stagger out contractors so there was more than one group working at a time.
R&B: How have you prepared for the opening? What's the feel?
WJ: We are going to limit the menu a little bit. You don’t ever want to leave a bad impression on anyone, so we don’t want the kitchen getting overwhelmed. Hopefully it’ll just be fun, hang out, have drinks, play some music and make it a fun spot.
R&B: What would you say are the benefits of having extra patio space right now?
WJ: I think people have always enjoyed eating outside. The good news for my patio is it’s in the shade starting at about four o’clock in the afternoon, so you don’t have to swelter in the heat … and I think people feel safer outside … I think people naturally [like to eat outside] for the same reason they want to be out in their boat on the lake — you know, it’s just nice to be outside.
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.