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August 22, 2013

'City-style lounge' coming to Market Street

By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Choice Ultra Lounge, a new restaurant and bar, is coming to Oneonta.

“Everybody is doing the same old thing in Oneonta,” said Tom Espersen, the owner of Choice Ultra Lounge. “We’re trying to give another choice.”

Espersen said he envisions Choice Ultra Lounge as a bustling bar, restaurant and nightspot, describing it as, “One place to go to do everything.”

The space will be divided into The Restaurant of Choice and The Lounge of Choice.

The Restaurant of Choice will have full lunch, dinner and late-night menus, and appeal to families and business professionals. The Lounge of Choice meanwhile, will have a dance floor, full bar, DJ booth and VIP section with bottle service.

“(We’re) trying to bring a higher-end city-style lounge and restaurant to the area,” said Espersen.

The bottle prices listed on Choice’s website for its bottle service run into the hundreds of dollars. Espersen said, however, that these prices are not indicative of what the lounge will be offering when it opens, and that the website is still under construction. He also advised visitors to consider the menu on the website in the same light.

Some of the items offered on the menu are burgers, calamari, filet mignon and pulled-pork tacos.

While the restaurant will be open to all ages, the lounge will be restricted to those who are 21 or older.

The contrast between the two spaces is something Espersen is trying to make a large part of Choice’s identity, saying that giving patrons a choice of how they want to spend their night will also apply to both its food and entertainment.

Indeed, as an entertainment venue, Choice will be able to utilizes both the restaurant and the lounge area simultaneously.

“We have the ability to run a DJ on one side and karaoke on the other,” said Espersen.

As for what will be offered for entertainment, Espersen said he was receptive to suggestions, citing poetry and live music as possibilities.

“I’m open to anything.”

Espersen began leasing the spaces formerly occupied by Today’s Lounge of Oneonta and Up to You Café & Convenience on Market Street this January. Up to You was spelled out with an upward arrow, a numeral and a letter. Renovations began over the summer.

Espersen moved to Oneonta in 1994 and has lived there ever since. Married with two children, he is the owner of Lime 2.0 Social Media Solutions. He also used to manage the Sip & Sail Tavern and is the former owner of Suburban Delight, both in Oneonta. Suburban Delight is now closed.

Said Espersen, “I’m familiar with both the food and beverage industry.”

Espersen estimates that Choice will be open in the next few months, and he has initiated a large social media campaign promoting it.

“I’m pushing, I’m pushing, I’m constantly pushing,” said Espersen. “My strong part is advertising and marketing.”

He also says that the venture has received a positive response.

“I’ve been getting flooded with questions.”

A unique element Espersen plans to introduce at Choice is a dress code for the lounge area.

“On the weekends we will implement a dress code,” said Espersen, describing it as business casual.

A reason for doing this that he gave was that while women regularly dress up to go out, the same is not always true for men.

Espersen plans to have Choice open seven days a week. The lounge will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. to 2. a.m. on weekends, while the restaurant will remain open for an hour after the lounge closes.

Said Espersen, “By having a restaurant and having late-night food, it helps out our numbers.”