At a new sports bar on Main Street in Springfield’s thriving downtown, you can look up at the television and see a sport that you may not be familiar with. Other people in the joint are watching, too, but there isn’t any of the typical screaming associated with drinking and watching sports. Usually, this sort of tranquil scene would be reserved for those precious weeks every other year during the Olympics, but it’s just another day at Jasper’s Tavern.
Gregory Melitsoff, the Jasper’s Tavern owner, says he wanted to create a sports bar with a different kind of vibe, somewhere that will pick rugby over football, inline skating over basketball.
“I don’t want a sports bar vibe where people think the quarterback can hear you, so they’re yelling at the TV. We don’t really have that here,” he says.
Melitsoff wants Jasper’s Tavern to stand in opposition to sports bars with cliquey atmospheres, places where you feel like you have to be willing to give your first-born child to Damian Lillard in order to have a beer. He appreciates seeing people come together over obscure sports, regardless of how much insider knowledge you might have.
“The other day we had curling on, and there were three different groups of people who all just started engaging with each other about it,” Melitsoff says. “They didn’t know anything about curling, but they all started talking to each other about it.”
Melitsoff, who is originally from Los Angeles but moved to Eugene from Wisconsin a few years ago, has been in the restaurant industry for 20 years, daydreaming about his future establishment the whole way.
“It’s just a progression, as you work your way up, you see the people you work for and with and think about what you could improve and how you’d want to do it your own way,” he says.
Melitsoff says that he opened Jasper’s Tavern — named after his nephew who lives in Wisconsin — thinking of it as a bar, first and foremost, but he has been happily surprised by people’s interest in the food that they serve.
Melitsoff describes the menu as “high-end pub fare,” saying, “If you just want some fried food, we have that, but if you want to go out and have a nice meal without spending a ton of money, we’ve got that for you as well.”
Some of the most intriguing menu items include the fried Brussels sprouts, the chicken tenders with a bleu cheese fondue and chicken fajita skewers, that come with red bell peppers and onions, served over fries smothered in queso cheese.
Of course, there is a bar, well-stocked but non-threatening.
Essentially, you can do what you want at Jasper’s Tavern.
“You can have whatever you want. If we don’t have it, we’ll find something you like,” Melitsoff says. “We want you here. We want you to know there’s a place for you.”
Jasper’s Tavern is located at 416 Main Street in Springfield, open 11 am to 10 pm Sunday through Thursday and 11 am to 11 pm Friday and Saturday. See JaspersTavern.com for more information.