Laurent Tasic has been listening to his customers complain for many years. Not about the food he serves at his longtime French-Americas restaurant, Sage Café. Not about his service or even his prices, which have always been fair.
Instead, the jovial chef says with a twinkle in his eyes and a soft French accent that he's been listening to patrons complain about the lack of nightlife in the area.
"For years, my customers have been telling me they want some place to go after they dined with us," says Tasic, whose restaurant is located in the Whole Foods shopping plaza off Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale. "So I decided to create a place like the old O'Hara's Jazz Café [on Las Olas Boulevard]. A place where they could go before or after dinner to hear some live music or order a burger and have a beer or cocktail."
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When the adjoining space next door to Sage Café -- formerly the East Side Pub -- became available last year, Tasic saw the perfect opportunity to develop such a project. After nearly a quarter century of serving straightforward French fare and American staples, Tasic unveiled Qbar Burger & Blues, a companion concept that would provide an alternative ambiance to Sage's elegant dining atmosphere with live music and gastropub-style fare.
The Croatian-born chef spent much of his life in France, where he owned and operated several restaurants, from a Tex-Mex concept in Monte Carlo to a high-end concept in the French Alps.
When Tasic relocated to the States in the late 1980s, he began consulting for a number of establishments, including Fort Lauderdale's Studio One. In 1991, Tasic consulted for Sage Café. Five years later, he'd fallen in love -- with the restaurant and his patrons. He purchased the establishment from its founding owners in 1996, and now, two decades later, continues to deliver dishes like coq au vin, escargots in garlic butter, roast duck, and beef bourguignon.
Qbar opened in December, and today no vestige of the once-cavernous Steelers' sports bar remains. Instead, the long, narrow space was gutted and redesigned, transforming it into a sleek, New Orleans-style jazz bar with a gaping, open entrance. To the left is a brick wall lined with high-top tables and accented with gold-framed mirrors. Across sits an expansive, 78-foot copper bar offering a front-row seat to the small stage beyond where, each night, the restaurant hosts a different live performance.
Inspired by (and an abbreviated reference for) New Orleans' French Quarter, Qbar serves lunch and dinner daily with customizable burgers and a short list of Creole- and Cajun-inspired classics.