DOZENS OF VOLUNTEERS WORK PRO BONO TO GET LOCAL BAR UP AND RUNNING IN FOREST HEIGHTS
The place was gutted. The floors were torn out. Walls were torn down, signs were built, lights installed, and the smell of Keith Brown’s volunteers’ sweat hung thick in the air.
The gargantuan sign that read “Overtime Sports Bar” was being mounted 20 feet in the air.
After 12 years of wanting his very own sports bar, and months of searching and planning, Brown and his partner Simon Poulsen are only a few short weeks away from its grand opening.
In December 2011, Brown decided to buy a bar in Forest Heights, a southeast Calgary community, and his long-time friends and patrons from previous bars decided to lend a hand in its renovation.
Brown says so many of his old patrons volunteered to help because his goal in creating Overtime is to enrich the community by giving people in a rougher neighbourhood a safe place to drink and watch the game.
Because Brown lived in the neighbourhood in his youth, he knows Forest Heights is not the tamest of communities.
“For the past year and a half, it’s been a troubled area,” Brown says.
Between July 2010 and June 2011, Forest Heights had 260 instances of crime — a number well above many other areas in Calgary.
Because he has so many roots in the neighbourhood, Brown says he’s adamant on giving back to the area by creating a fun and safe place for community members to have a drink and watch a game.
“We’re going to do this place up right and start it clean from the get-go,” Brown says. “We’re going to get rid of the seedy element.
“Other bars are just worried about losing a dime here or there and don’t realize that every time there’s a fight in the bar it’s losing good, regular people. They don’t want to come back to a place like that.”
It’s for reasons like this that Brown is being overrun with volunteers to help build and run his sports bar.
“We’re going to do this place up right and clean from the get-go. We’re going to get rid of the seedy element.” — Keith Brown, owner of Overtime Sports Bar
“People are donating their time and expertise to help this bar come together,” Brown says.
Some of these experts include drywallers, city inspectors and tilers.
Dave Kormos, an inspector for the City of Calgary, spends an average of 30-35 hours per week working on Overtime’s construction.
“Because of the person (Brown) is, everyone wants to help him,” Kormos says. “They know that if there was ever a time when they would need him, he would be there.”
The masses of eager volunteers were unexpected to Brown, especially when the number of friends, family and former patrons volunteering in the bar’s construction climbed to 40.
Don Garland, Brown’s karaoke partner, says the bar will be a definite success because of Brown’s genuine and caring personality.
“I have a huge following and I have a lot of friends. They just like the way I do things,” Brown says.