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The Dugout

CENTRAL POINT — The Dugout Sports Grill owner Joe Hall — a full-time salesman for replacement hips and knees — is an unlikely bartender and burger flipper.

But he quickly settles into either role, passing out sandwiches and whipping up drinks on a recent afternoon.

"My wife and I always talked about having a neighborhood kind of place, like 'Cheers' on TV," Hall said.

"We always thought that would be kind of fun, so we figured why wait for retirement like so many people do? We should take our shot now while we still have time to recover."

Still in his 40s, Hall works a busy 40-plus-hour week consulting for the artificial hips and knees he sells for DePut Orthopedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson Co., based out of Warsaw, Ind.

By afternoon, he's managing a crew of a half-dozen employees at The Dugout.

Hall and his wife, Karen, first opened The Dugout off Medford's Biddle Road, luring local sports leagues and employees from nearby businesses.

A secluded spot in a nondescript strip mall, the location was tough to make profitable but was a draw with its dozens of television screens, free Wi-Fi, computer games and golf and shooting simulators.

Nearby businesses kept him going until this spring, when Musician's Friend pulled up stakes in Medford.

"They turned out to be 70 to 80 percent of my business. We were one of two places that catered to them and, when their jobs went away, so did our business," Hall said.

"Like the old saying, 'It rolls downhill.' "

The Halls "stuck it out" for several months at the property owner's suggestion, he said, "losing another $4,000."

Hall planned to cut his losses and throw in the towel. But then he learned of the vacant 1902 brick building at Pine and Third streets in Central Point and "had to check it out."

"Nothing like this was available when we first started the business a year ago," he said.

"So far it's been great and the building is phenomenal."

White City resident Dave Weaver, joining friends at The Dugout for lunch on Friday, said he was glad to see the historic building being used.

"I'm glad somebody's open here. They need something in Central Point," Weaver said.

"It's a nice building. You'd hope somebody could make it work in here."

Customer Alisha Wright said she enjoyed The Dugout while it was in Medford. Living just a few blocks away, she said the spot was an easy favorite.

"There's stuff to do while you're waiting for food and the people are really nice," she said.

"My little brother plays baseball, so we spent a lot of time here after his games. The burgers are amazing, so I really hope this place works out for them."

Hall hopes so, too.

Thus far, improved location and being in his own backyard have proven a home run.

"I have lived here for 16 years and the outpouring of support from this community for that establishment being opened now at The Brick is very humbling," he said.

"I can't say enough good things about the community in which I live helping out one of their own."

In addition to ballpark favorites such as sandwiches and steamer clams, The Dugout offers daily specials, light dinners and $3 specials for Crater High students.

While simulated golf and shooting weren't relocated from the old location, several old-time games, pool and some other favorites remain.

The Dugout is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. "until whenever" on Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.

On the Web: http://dugoutsportsgrill.net.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.

Joe Hall reopened The Dugout Sports Grill, once located in Medford, in the old building at 311 E. Pine St., Central Point that was home to The Brick. - Julia Moore