Calling all motorcycle lovers.
A combination restaurant, museum and Harley Davidson dealership opened in Clearwater this weekend, with the hopes of bringing the quintessential biker experience to Tampa Bay.
The OCC Road House & Museum sells food and booze in an indoor-outdoor space. It features two live music stages, pool tables, beer booths and foosball in the open air. Unique bikes — ones decorated with flames, spiderwebs and candy canes — line the inside.
Just next door is Bert’s Barracuda Harley Davidson. The 15,000 square-foot showroom sells low riders and fat boys, touring bikes and trikes.
“Tampa Bay already has sports and entertainment,” said Clearwater resident Keith Dull, or “Papa Bear” in the biker community. “Now we have a motorcycle destination that’s not just Daytona.”
For Dull, it’s about the character.
Look around, and you’ll see tchotchkes and memorabilia. A Sinclair Oil Corporation sign. A painted skateboard. Firefighter helmets. Florida license plates. In a shelf, peer at a rainbow collection of miniature motorcycles, bobbleheads, eight balls, beer mugs.
A fair share of the decor centers around Paul Teutel Sr., the custom motorcycle manufacturer and “American Chopper” reality TV star who helped open the spot.
“Paul’s an all-around nice guy, who really cares about choppers,” Dull said.
The venue intends to unite the community and to be a lively place, owner Keith Overton said. He operates 18 restaurants and formerly managed the St. Pete Beach-based TradeWinds Island Resorts for 25 years.
Live music will play everyday, starting at 9 a.m. on the weekends. Dancing customers float around the restaurant with beers and bites, like beer cheese soup, chicken strips and gator tail.
“It’s a big party here, almost all the time,” Overton said at the grand opening Friday.
The event attracted 1,500 people. Older couples in Harley Davidson button-ups. Younger folks in T-shirts and tanks tops.
Mark Blade, 70, rides his bike every day and heard of the Road House opening through the grapevine. A huge fan of Tuetel’s, he shook his hand and offered to arm wrestle him. Tuetel declined.
“I watched him every day,” Blade said. “I watched every [”American Choppers”] episode.”
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He mingled with friends into the night, sipping beers in a grey Harley tank top and bandana. After moving from Michigan three years ago, Blade said he gravitates toward places like the Road House.
But others are infrequent visitors.
Bob Hirsch lived in Ohio until his January move to Florida. His buddy brought him to the opening, but he didn’t object. On Friday night, he enjoyed the vibe, the music, and after the pandemic closures, the crowd.
Bikes were the last thing on Hirsch’s mind. “I couldn’t ride a tricycle,” he said.
He, like most diners, gazed at the furnishings. Posters upon posters, and distinctive choppers next to aggressive warnings: “Don’t f—ckin’ touch the bikes.”
In the bathroom, women admired the reflective “rearview mirrors” above the faucet, and the sinks shaped like handlebars.
Stephen Aretz, the architect behind the sinks, played pool with his employees and a friend at the opening. The Road House commissioned his Largo business, Hot Shot Welding & Design, for the bathroom additions.
“People give me crazy s—t to do, and I run with it,” he said.
Inklings of ideas about the Road House first came together more than two years ago. Then the COVID-19 pandemic slowed progress. Overton and Tuetel decided to continue the project, with the assumption that Florida would ease mask mandates and distancing restrictions sooner than other states. Bert’s Barracuda moved from another nearby location to complete the venue.
“Now we have this,” Overton said. “Better than we could have imagined.”