The story of the Topher started in 2008 in a Humanities class at Valencia Community College. The professor was reading a story from a text, and “Topher this” and “Topher that” was all I heard. Out of curiosity I raised my hand and asked, “What is a Topher, Professor?” He replied, “A person who works hard and plays hard, and you only do one of things, right, Mr. Perez?” The class full of youngsters erupted in laughter, but all I could think was Topher would be a good name for a bar, and The Thirsty Topher was born!
In 2012 my business partner Ron DiDonato and I began brainstorming the vision of The Thirsty Topher. We knew the bar would be the main focal point at 26 feet long, and we needed a bar top that was durable, yet filled with character.
What we ended up with was a 2,500 year old pecky cypress tree from the Oklawaha River near Ocala. The bar top became the centerpiece and inspiration for the design and spirit of the space.
In 2014 I received the news our Alden Street location had been sold and we had one year to vacate. I noticed a rental sign in a former restaurant on Virginia Drive and rented the storefront the same day. The new space had none of the charm, character, or parking of our last location, and we would need to work twice as hard to recreate the Alden Street space.
It took 12 people to carefully move the ancient bar top to its new home. We planned on a little over a week to complete and reopen, but two months and $30,000 later, we put the final touches on our new space.
The reaction has been positive with an occasional cough about the parking. We love our new neighbors and are ecstatic we didn’t have to go far. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to design and open my own business not once, but twice.
Jason Perez, The Thirsty Topher
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