After 27 years with the U.S. Army, retired first sergeant Andrew Sablan Manglona returned to Saipan. Two years later and now happily engaged, Manglona thought it was time to go back to his roots.
That happened last June 1, when Manglona and his better-half, Colleen June Camacho, opened Drew’s Bar & Grill along Beach Road in Oleai at the former location of Amari’s Tavern.
The 52-year-old Manglona said his mother, Soledad, used to run and operate Happy Landing Bar, one of the oldest and well-known watering holes on Saipan in the 1960s and 1970s. So, it wasn’t a much of a stretch to say that Manglona has owning and managing a local bar in his veins.
“I just want to bring back the bar atmosphere where locals can come together and enjoy themselves like the good old times,” he said.
And that philosophy greets you as you walk through Drew’s Bar & Grill; the sign on the door reads “Sagan Minagof” which means happy place in Chamorro.
“It’s not a typical bar to just drink. I want Drew’s Bar & Grill to have a positive vibe where everyone who comes here get to know each and other and have a good time together,” said Manglona.
Right now, Drew’s Bar & Grill’s bar food borrows heavily from Amari’s Tavern’s menu, with tried-and-tested favorites like fried chicken, pizza, and calamari. Gradually, however, Manglona plans to introduce his magic touch on Drew’s Bar & Grill’s menu with his unique take on kelaguen dishes, empanadas, other Chamorro food, and the Tex-Mex fare he learned to cook after living more than half his life in California.
Drew’s Bar & Grill has also become a venue of choice for local solo acts and bands such as Stacy Kaipat, Ruby Moses, Lost Boys of Bantalan, and up-and-coming reggae band Uprooted.
The latter incidentally will have one of its last playdates on island at Drew’s Bar & Grill before embarking on a tour of the U.S. mainland.
Manglona also has ambitions of transforming Drew’s Bar & Grill into a true sports bar; flat screen TVs are on the way, together with a ton of sports paraphernalia to liven up the place.
The spot will host and sponsor billiards and electronic darts tournaments to complete its metamorphosis into a genuine sports bar.
As for upcoming events, Drew’s Bar & Grill will stream live the bout between Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman on July 21.
Manglona also has opened his bar to those in need, as it will host a medical referral fundraiser for Paul Camacho Manglona on Aug. 19.
Drew’s Bar & Grill is open Monday-Saturday from 6pm to 2pm. It is closed on Sunday. For reservations and other information, call 286-444.