This summer, the popular fan shop, Gator Shop, will be remodeled into a modern bar. The family-owned store closed on March 4 but they plan on re-opening another one on Archer or Newberry Road. JD Chester, the owner of Munchies 420 Café, will be subleasing the property that will eventually become the new bar known as Four Twenty.
Partial owner of the Gator Shop, Amy Ritch, said having a store in the heart of college nightlife became difficult. “It just wasn’t feasible to sell T-Shirts there anymore,” said Ritch. “For awhile our only sales came from drunk kids buying shirts to puke in or buying snacks and sodas to munch on.” Ritch also attributes the school’s lack of football success to their store’s troubles. “Ever since our last title in 2008, sales have been slow. There is still school spirit, but in the past couple years people aren’t willing to spend as much on a 5 and 6 loss football team.”
JD Chester hopes he can parlay his Munchies 420 Café into a popular bar called Four Twenty. He has already purchased ten frozen drink machines so strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas will be on the menu. Patrons will be able to walk downstairs to the bar after they eat at the café, which is known for having extravagant snacks, from mozzarella sticks to chili dogs to beef nachos.
“My goal is to create a fun environment for these kids,” explained Chester. “And to help them achieve the freshman 15 as fast as physically possible. If I can have kids indulge in daiquiris and martinis and then make their way up to some onion rings and quesadillas, and then have them survive and come back again, that’s a win in my book.”
Joe Fincher bought the Gator Shop in 1984, which at the time was the only fan shop located in Midtown. 18 years later, the store will be transformed into Midtown’s 29th bar.