Getting to know your neighbor: The Office, where everybody has known your name for the past 10 years
“I saw my opportunity and I took it. It was my dream to own a hometown bar and restaurant,” said Lauber. “It was just phenomenal how it all worked out.”
That was 10 years ago and Lauber said his establishment is still going strong, thanks to his putting everything back into the business that he gets out of it. “When the economy’s hurting, so am I,” he said. “When it’s good, then I’m good. I’m just running a no-frills, no-thrills kind of bar. What you see is what you get.”
A native of North Collins, Lauber said he originally named the bar so people could say they were “going to be working late at the office.
“I thought it would be a fun thing for the guys to say, but it turns out the women use it more than the men,” he said, with a laugh. He added that the tagline “the Cheers of Springville” came about as regulars began to refer to the bar that way.
“It really is that kind of place,” Lauber said. “We have a very close-knit group of customers. Some come and go, but for the most part, we’ve got a great group of regulars. It does get a little louder later in the evening, but it’s mostly people who have been coming here for a long time.”
After a decade operating his business on Main Street, Lauber said he has seen other establishments rise, fall and change hands over the years, including the Legacy, Western House and the Southtowner. “Most of the places in town have their niche,” he said, with regard to competition. “A lot has happened in 10 years and I can’t believe how fast it’s gone.”
During the past decade, Lauber has added on to his building, constructed a front porch and built up the food menu, all while trying to maintain the sort of place his customers would want to keep coming back to.
“We’ve come a long way,” he said. “A lot of people don’t even realize we have food, but we get a pretty good lunchtime crowd. We’ve usually got weekday lunch specials and even when we don’t, we’ve got wings, beef on weck; stuff like that.”
Although Lauber said the wings are the most popular item on The Office’s menu, he said the cheeseburgers come in at a close second. A Friday fish fry has also been added recently. The bar has approximately 50 types of bottled beer and 100 liquors, although The Office is not equipped for draft beer.
“We’ve probably got the best beer selection in the area,” Lauber said, gesturing at a full refrigerator case. “We’ve got a lot of [liquor] flavors too, since as soon as someone like Smirnoff® comes out with one, all the other companies have to get one out, too. We try to have a variety so we’ve got what people want.”
With that said, The Office is not known for complicated concoctions, since Lauber said he tries to strike a balance between having a wide variety of choices and “keeping it basic” so that he can move his product reliably.
“We like to keep people happy,” he said. “But at the same time, I’m not going to buy a case of something if I’m only going to move three or four bottles. Most people know what they want and stick with what they like.”
Lauber said that his main goal, be it with his clientele or his beverage options, is to “have people come in here happy and leave happy.
“If people aren’t happy, I want to hear about it. I just want it to be a good time, all the time, but you can’t please everybody. People are free to go wherever they want to go, but if there’s a problem, I want to know and see if I can fix it,” he added.
He said that his favorite part of running The Office are the people he has met along the way, as well as the regulars who keep coming in over and over again.
“It’s hard, when you’ve got one group of people who want to play pool and get a little loud and then you’ve got another group by the TV who want to watch the hockey game,” he said, noting that striking a balance between the two can be a challenge. “You’ve just got to try to keep the peace and do the best you can with what you’ve got.”
The Office is open Monday - Saturday from 11 a.m. until whenever the staff decides to close, which is always after 1 a.m. On Sunday, the business opens at noon.
“When I was younger and lived in North Collins, I remember my friends and I would drive to a bar a couple towns over and sometimes we’d get there and the lights would be off,” Lauber explained. “I said that when I run my bar, that won’t happen.”
Throughout the decade The Office has been in business, Lauber said he has always tried to “run the bar the way I’d want it to be.”
Whether that means staying open late enough to accommodate as many customers as possible, hosting live music once a month, adding new menu items to keep it fresh or listening to his customers’ concerns, Lauber said he does his best to make sure his bar is somewhere people can visit to have a good time.
“That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “I’m just trying to run a hometown bar; just trying to make a living, like everybody else.”