If students walk down Semple Street, they will come across one of Oakland’s newest party spots – Phats Bar. The huge pink neon sign, loud music, friendly atmosphere and cool drinks should attract customers.
Phat Nguyen, Phung Nguyen and Andy Do opened Phats Bar on January 21, after spontaneously coming up with the idea during an earlier part of the COVID-19 pandemic. Phung Nguyen said they adjusted the interior themselves to set their bar apart from other party scenes.
“We just want to find a good place that has good music, good food, and a really good atmosphere,” Phung said said Nguyen. “I always say you can go out on the street and get alcohol anywhere. But why do you want to come here? It should be an experience. It should be fun. It should feel safe. ”
Phat Nguyen also owns Indescribable Cà Phê in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood. Do lived in Atlanta before opening Phat’s with the Nguyen brothers. According to Phung Nguyen Got stuck in Pittsburgh due to COVID-19-related flight cancellations, the duo decided to open a bar on Thursdays and mix their personal experiences from partying in Atlanta and Pittsburgh.
From helping out in the cafe to doing various jobs, Do discovered the difficulty of owning a bar – being constantly on your toes and thinking fast to keep guests entertained. In contrast to the cafe’s perennial business model, Phung Nguyen emphasizes that the bar emphasizes the importance of a fun and varied atmosphere for all of its customers, which can vary depending on the day and type of crowd.
“You’re selling an experience. You’re selling a party. Nobody wants to go to a dead party, ”said Phung Nguyen. “You have to sell the party, you have to build the hype, you have to inspire everyone.”
According to Delaney Gatenby, a junior majoring in film and theater, the trio managed to curate a party scene that blends excitement and intimacy with everyone who walks into the room. She said Phat’s was the perfect combination of a party scene and a relaxed area to socialize.
“It’s intimate. Usually in a bar there is the bar area, tables and dancing. But here you can sit down and talk, ”said Gatenby. “It’s nice that you can go elsewhere if you want to have a conversation instead of just being in the mix.”
Dylan Zilles, a junior mechanical engineer major, said the friendly atmosphere of the bar is evident not only from Phung Nguyen and Do, but also from the attention of the bartenders.
“The service is amazing,” said Zilles. “The mood is perfect – not too loud. I don’t know how to explain it differently, it’s just perfect. “
Do staff said Phat tries to connect with their customers, whether it be playing giant jenga or cornhole outdoors or just chatting with party goers at tables.
“There’ll be a couple of nights where we were playing Connect Four and people would just come in and try to beat us because it looks like we’re really good,” said Do.
Phung Nguyen said customers can win a free shot by beating him and Do at Connect Four, a currently undefeated duo, underscoring the importance of friendly customer interaction.
“If you can beat us, we’ll give you a chance,” said Phung Nguyen. “We want to interact with people and have that kind of connection with them – I think it was a positive experience there.”
In addition to constantly building up its community aspect, Phat’s Bar is continuously developing into its ever-changing customer base. Do said most of her customers are local college students, so there is a rotation of new repeats every few years. This fluctuation forces the trio to come up with new ideas on how to keep the bar updated with people’s interests.
Currently, Phat’s Bar has DJs playing most nights, and karaoke and special themed events on Wednesdays. Past events include a PJ night, where guests came to party in pajamas, or the “Very Important Phat Asses Night”, where customers came in formally dressed.
The owners plan to serve brunch in the bar’s back yard, host more themed events, and have alcohol tastings in the future. Mighty threshold, a Spike Seltzer company, will be at Phat’s on Wednesday from 6pm to 8pm so guests can try their new seltzer.
Aside from the bar’s activities and events, Phat’s drinks and food are different from many other bars. For example, Do said he spent a lot of time and effort creating Phat’s famous alcoholic boba tea.
“Every day I tested the teas and could only drink two or three of them,” said Do. “You will get a buzz pretty quickly.”
Although Phat’s sells typical bar food like chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, chicken wraps and french fries, they make everything themselves.
“Everything we make is in-house, we don’t buy frozen wings or anything,” said Phung Nguyen. “We actually make the wings in-house, all sauces are made here, the ranch is made here.”
According to Phung Nguyen, the trio put a lot of time and effort into creating a fun and safe space for the students. Do said her diners fuel the owners ’enthusiasm for continuing to come up with new ideas for the bar.
“We met new people and it was always fun to see them come back,” said Do. “And that’s always exciting to see. To see the same faces you saw last week – that’s more exciting. “