Derek Prince is owner of Bogey Grille in Ponte Vedra Beach. The popular sports bar and restaurant recently celebrated its 16th anniversary.
As told to Maggie FitzRoy
Q: When did Bogey Grille open?
A: Bogey Grille actually opened in August 2003 under that name. My business partner and I bought it in November 2003. The original building was built around 1997. It used to be called Glory Days.
Q: Where did the name Bogey Grille come from?
A: It had to do with where we are located. And the guy who opened it was from Columbus, Ohio, where I believe there was a similar business with that name. But being next to TPC, it just made sense.
Q: When did you celebrate its 16th birthday?
A: We celebrated the anniversary of me buying it, Nov. 16. We did drink specials, smoked wings outside on the smoker. We had a lot of giveaway prizes, decorated all up, sold T-shirts that said, “Sweet 16.”
Q: What did you do before you bought Bogey Grille 16 years ago?
A: I was an Outback Steakhouse partner in Springfield, Missouri, for a little over four years.
Q: How did you get into the restaurant business?
A: I went in the Air Force after high school and then attended the University of South Carolina and studied hospitality and tourism. Then I ended up joining Steak and Ale, they recruited me out of college. After about four years, I joined Longhorn Steakhouse, which moved me to St. Louis, and I opened up that market. Then Outback recruited me to be a partner in Springfield.
Q: Where did you grow up, and where do you live now?
A: I grew up in Boca Raton, Florida. I live in Walden Chase.
Q: How, when and why did you come to the First Coast?
A: My Bogey Grille partner was living in Ponte Vedra Beach and he told me there was a restaurant for sale here and would I be interested in taking a look at it? I was. I was looking forward to coming back to Florida and after visiting Ponte Vedra Beach, fell in love with it and thought it would be a great place to raise my two boys. I also thought it was a great opportunity to be on my own, free of the corporate world and taking on the challenge of operating my own restaurant.
Q: Tell us about your family.
A: My wife, Sharon, is a nurse practitioner at Ponte Vedra Plastic Surgery. One of my boys graduated from Nease, one from Ponte Vedra High. Both attend the University of North Florida.
Q: Did you make changes to the original Bogey Grille?
A: Immediately. I started working on the menu, trying to get the look and feel of a locally run sports bar. I also got involved with all the school and youth athletics and local charities and national charities, becoming a fabric of the community.
Q: Where do you get your heavily local wall décor?
A: With the wall decorations, everything at Bogey has bee decorated by local families and local sports teams. They take pictures and bring them in and want me to put them up. The walls are heavily decorated: school banners, sports pennants and lots of pictures of teams, champions. We do at times change things out. Sometimes an old one comes down and a new one goes up.
Q: What about your staff?
A: My general manager has been with me for 16 years. Many of our employees have been with us for 10 years or more. Some who go away to college come back and work college breaks.
Q: You are also a Realtor. How do you have time to do that?
A: I have good people that can run Bogey. I always had a passion for real estate, so got into it about three years ago. I joined a RE/MAX team.
Q: Bogey Grille has a lot of regulars. Is it a place where everybody knows your name?
A: I hear it called the Cheers of Ponte Vedra all the time. Tons of regulars. It’s usually the spot that everybody chooses to come to after a school sporting event, after youth sporting events, to celebrate.
Q: And to watch national and regional sports. How many TVs do you have in the place?
A: About 30 TVs, including four outside. People love to come to watch their favorite college or NFL team as well as many other sports.
Q: What type of food is on the menu?
A: Sports bar, American fare, with some seafood, salads. It’s a pretty extensive menu. And we were recently voted as having the best wings in town.