In the past 11 years, East Lake Varsity Club, a family-oriented sports bar at the Brooker Creek Shopping Center on East Lake Road, has become an oasis where locals find relaxation and camaraderie, along with a menu that features more than 300 savory dishes and plenty of drinks.
Sports fans can view multiple games at the same time on several wide screen TVs that adorn its walls or chat with friends and staffers.
Owner Jody Mohlar, an East Lake resident whose two youngsters attend the local high school, said the “Varsity Club is truly a place where most everyone knows each other by name. It’s the only place in East Lake where large groups of teenagers can go after a game and feel welcome,” she said.
“Our customers are like family, and our staff becomes part of their extended family,” said Mohlar, who is an active member of the close-knit community east of Lake Tarpon. The Varsity Club is the first place people think of when having a fundraiser or party, she added.
“Everyone loves our food because we have a big menu with something for every taste, and we can try to tailor dishes to a person’s likes or needs,” she said. Some customers come in to eat every day or a few times a week after work. She said staff knows what the regulars like to eat and drink, and that’s what makes this place special.
"We are not a bar, but rather a family meeting place, she added.
The menu features about 20 different appetizers ranging from a fresh veggie platter to fried jalapeno rings, fried mushrooms, chicken fingers, onion straws, blackened shrimp, mozzarella sticks and several different variations of potato fries. Diners can choose from seven different type quesadillas, nine specialty wraps, 14 different style burgers, 13 chicken sandwiches or sample 14 different Hall of Fame sandwiches. A Varsity Club specialty has become their seven different pizzas, and their steak, fish, chicken or shrimp entrees.
Several customers from the Trinity area of Pasco County travel the eight miles south to the Brooker Creek Shopping Center just to experience East Lake Varsity Club fun. Mohlar said some have expressed the wish that they had such a meeting spot closer to home. The good news for them, she said, is that she plans to open a Trinity Varsity Club early next year in a location yet to be disclosed.
As for the East Lake Varsity Club, her plans include to someday extend the eatery and add a game room for youngsters. A few years ago, when the indoor smoking ban went into effect, she added an outdoor patio.
She said the Varsity Club offers a lot of specials, such as kids eat free on Tuesday nights, and people can bring their dogs to eat free on the patio on Wednesday nights. Karaoke is featured entertainment on Thursday nights.
"There is always something going on here," she said.
If You Go
East Lake Varsity Club
36355 East Lake Rd.