There are two things Kevin McCormack, bartender/owner of Time Out Tavern in Dallas, loves: ice cream and reading SideDish comments. Last week, when we sat inside his sports bar, which is filled with sports memorabilia (including items from when the Stars won the Stanley Cup), McCormack and I bonded over these two great loves. Time Out Tavern turns 25 on August 18, and McCormack isn’t celebrating with typical drink specials, he’s giving back to our troops. You’ll want to stop by. You would expect a sports bar owner to love the Rangers, but I didn’t expect Kevin to be one who enjoys gardening, too. Don’t get me wrong, though. Kevin is tough and very protective of his framed picture of The Most Interesting Man in the World. He knows when it’s necessary to use a cactus to keep people from trying to steal the picture from the bar patio, too.
Marley Dablo: You said you got started as a liquor salesman. How’d you get started opening up this place?
Kevin McCormack: As a liquor salesman, you’re going to only earn so much money, and by the time Patrick [my son] was born, I wanted him to be able to go to private school and I was tired of calling on retailers that wouldn’t listen. They’re driving Cadillacs and I’m driving a Volkswagen. So I’m driving down a country road one Friday afternoon out in the middle of nowhere and it just dawns on me that I need to go start my own bar or business. I grew up in the area and came in here and saw that it was a rundown old bar with about three bottles of liquor and a bunch of old drunks. The owner just didn’t really take care of the business and she wanted out. I told the manager that one of these days, sports bars are going to be a big thing, but he just didn’t get it and ran the business to the ground, so I went to the owner and told her what I wanted to do and I offered her $7,500 and we paid over the course of a year. That’s what we did and we started the Time Out Tavern.
Dablo: Is this always what you wanted to do in the long run?
McCormack: I absolutely love what I do, but I can’t say I ever had the desire to own a bar. It just popped in my head that I think it would be a good thing to start it and I knew [this place] was going to become available because it was so poorly handled. But I never grew up thinking I was going to own a bar. I thought that I would go to law school, if I could get in. I was a political science major, but I realized that wasn’t for me. Both my parents were lawyers, but I just wasn’t disciplined enough to sit down and study.
Dablo: What do you do in your spare time or do you spend most of your time here?
McCormack: I spend a lot of time here because I really love what I do, but spare time stuff is stuff around the house. I’ve got a big yard and do a considerable amount of gardening. This morning I cut back elephant ears. That kind of stuff. It is a very large yard.
Dablo: What’s your drink of choice?
McCormack: (Laughs) Well, there are a lot of good drinks out there. Right now I really enjoy Zinfandels and Cabernets.
Dablo: Bar food?
McCormack: This is sort of funny because I think I’m somewhat responsible for the nacho thing on SideDish. I brought up having bad nachos at Avillas the week before [on Food Feedback Friday] and I guess Nancy went off that. So I think that’s my food of choice. I mean I had nachos yesterday at Casa Navarro. I’ve been on this kick going around trying nachos.
Dablo: I just got Netflix on Saturday and I’m basically hooked on Grey’s Anatomy. Any TV series you can’t stop watching?
McCormack: I’ve always enjoyed biographies and I’ve always been fascinated with Mobsters. As a matter of fact, the last book I read was about the life and time of Lucky Luciano. It’s a fascinating book because he’s a fascinating man. But I like that sort of thing. My wife and I- for some reason or another – have become huge Ranger fans and now we watch all the baseball games. We were always into football and golf, but now we’ve taken on baseball and we thoroughly enjoy it.
Dablo: So I’ve noticed you’re a frequent commenter on SideDish and one of my guilty pleasures is reading the comments.
McCormack: Oh absolutely. I agree completely. I thoroughly enjoy it. Some people are hilarious and some, you can tell, are mean spirited people. Actually I find myself reading comments about subjects I could care less about. I always read comments.
Dablo: Any other guilty pleasures?
McCormack: I love ice cream, but I can’t eat it. I’m fat enough as it is. My wife and I will share a Fudgsicle. At least that’s not ice cream, I don’t know if it’s worse or better, but I’m thinking it’s better. We enjoy it, but I would love to have a pint of Haagen-Dazs in my freezer, but it would be gone. I haven’t had a pint of ice cream in my freezer for about five years. I’m serious. I’m dead serious.
Dablo: What do you drive?
McCormack: I drive a Toyota and my wife drives a Toyota. We inherited a Jaguar from her father, but we’ve had a tough run of luck. Her car wouldn’t start this morning ‘cause we usually take mine. So she took the Jaguar.
Dablo: What would be one word to describe yourself?
McCormack: I think I’m a very caring person about others. I truly care about other people. My employees mean the world to me. I’ve giving bonuses for the last 25 years and every bonus has been bigger than the last. I really care about my employees and people. That’s why I’m doing this Steak Team Mission thing for our 25th anniversary celebration. When bars have birthdays, they all want to have these drink specials and to me that’s a bunch of silliness. You can have drink specials 365 days a year. You should celebrate a worthy cause, and I think this Steak Team Mission is the cause of all causes. We’re supporting troops who support everybody to be able to have a cause.
Marley Dablo will be an online journalism senior at the University of Oklahoma in the fall. She plans to attend culinary school upon graduation in hopes of combining her writing and culinary skills to ultimately have her own cooking show one day.