Owned by Pat and Barbara Franc, the lounge at 119 South Second Street is the “twin” shop to their Flipside Sounds vinyl record store, which opened in July right next door.
“We wanted to create a very unique, relaxing and fun place for people to gather in a music-themed lounge in a historic building — filling a need for downtown Oakland,” Pat Franc said.
His hopes are that the two businesses will enhance each other.
“Both places are designed to help people reconnect and travel back in time with some of their favorite music memories from an old record or the radio,” he said.
In fact, there will be common hours when customers can access each business from the other side through shared glass doors. Promotions are also planned from time to time.
“We hope our customers, especially local residents, will feel that Sipside is their place — where they are known, welcome and comfortable,” Franc said. “It’s an ideal complement to Flipside Sounds where vinyl records, music accessories and more are featured.”
He has completely renovated the building where the businesses are housed, which is over 100 years old.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we’ve worked diligently to build a business and retrofit a building that our fellow Garrett Countians can be proud of,” he said. “When you walk in, it should immediately hit you that this is a lounge — not your typical bar or tavern.”
Franc noted that Sipside Lounge includes a handcrafted bar, some of his special musical keepsakes and some “quirky, funky artifacts.”
The full decor and theme of the lounge will remain a secret until all is revealed at the opening.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Franc said. “Everything will be unveiled when people walk in. The display window will be unveiled as to what the surprise is. All the artifacts will be up that have been under lock and key. Some of them are museum quality pieces that I’ve been collecting forever.”
A free commemorative grand opening gift will be available to everyone who attends.
“Sipside will be a work in progress,” Franc said. “Our offerings will evolve as we discover more of what our customers want.”
Franc explained that the majority of beers at the lounge are Maryland-based, meaning they are brewed and bottled or packaged in the state of Maryland.
Wines will be available by the glass or bottle. Spirits will range from bourbons, whiskeys, and vodkas to after-dinner drinks, tequila, gin and scotch. A very limited basic set of cocktails will also be offered.
“It will be more what you would have gotten in the 1920s,” Franc said. “If you could have gotten it back then, that’s what you can expect here — old school.”
An assortment of bar snacks will also be offered, as well as water, coffee and soft drinks.
“We want to be responsible,” Franc said. “We realize we are serving alcohol here, so we’ve got to be responsible and make sure our customers are too.”
The policy will be to I.D. everyone under 30. Children age 12 and up are welcome with a guardian or parent in the afternoon until 6 p.m. After that, customers must be at least 21.
Franc noted that designated drivers with a group will receive half-price savings on all non-alcoholic drinks. In addition, military personnel and first responders will always have ten percent deducted from their bill “as a small token of appreciation for what they do for us all.”
The end result of the Sipside Lounge is a collaboration between Franc and his wife, who will be celebrate their 38th wedding anniversary at the end of February.
“Her creativity came into play here,” Franc said. “The lighting that you see, the color scheme, and the bar were originally her concept. She has a great eye and great taste. With all the furnishings, she had a hand in it and made the final decision what to go with.”
Although they plan to be a presence at the lounge, the Franc’s plan is to allow their five employees to do what they were hired for.
“We have a team of diverse, friendly, enthusiastic and loyal employees who are very excited to be part of bringing something so different and new to Oakland,” Franc said.
Barb noted that the employees come from a variety of backgrounds.
“They’re so excited, so we feel the best thing to do is step back and let them do what they are best at,” she said. “We want to try to set it up to make it the best possible scenario and environment so they can just enjoy it.”
Franc spoke of the good relationship that has developed with other businesses in Oakland.
“My neighbors have been very patient with us,” he said. “They couldn’t be more welcoming and we’re all rooting for each other. I think it’s a collective effort that we’re part of to try to help rejuvenate. There’s no reason why people should be driving past Oakland to go somewhere else.”
Barb continued that thought.
“We want to give them a reason to stop,” she said. “All the tourists and everybody are welcome,” she said, “But we want people that are here in Garrett County to feel like they have ownership — that’s important for us. Pat was born here, so it’s kind of like a gift back. He’s been wanting to do this for a long time — to bring something back to the hometown.”
Franc noted that he was happy to get the chance to buy the building last spring and everything then fell into place.
“To be able to make an investment in my hometown and try to be part of this is really (special), and I wouldn’t be able to do it without Barb,” he said. “She’s been instrumental in many, many ways.”
The feeling is mutual for his wife as well.
“We’ve always been a good team,” she said.
Sipside Lounge will be open from 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Last call will be at 9:15 p.m.