Still using the name that a longtime customer recommended more than five years ago, Bleachers Sports Grill aims to keep its doors open and guests feeling at home.

Mark Clarke bought the restaurant, near 40th Street and Chandler Boulevard, after the former owner of Peyton’s Place decided to move the restaurant out of the area. At the height of the country’s recession, Clarke admits the first few years of operating the restaurant were a “big struggle.”

“It’s an accomplishment, in my mind, for so many bars and restaurants to close during that time and to survive,” Clarke said.

Through the restaurant’s hard time, Clarke said he did everything he could to make sure the doors stayed open.

After the place went through an extensive remodel that served as a “total facelift,” business began to pick up.

At the end of the day, according to Clarke, it all came down to the staff of employees and their relationship with customers.

During a typical Friday afternoon, the restaurant serves a few regulars sitting at the bar and everyone is greeted that comes through the door.

On several occasions, guests pass by Clarke on their way to their table, and they greet each by first names, just as friends do. It’s that atmosphere of a pleasant, casual meal among friends that seems to have been the key to Bleachers’ success.

The restaurant celebrated its fifth anniversary with a bash that included prizes, giveaways, food, and drinks in June.

As a way to connect with the community, Clarke said events like those are what makes his job fun.

“It doesn’t matter how bad of a day you had, that night you get to a different realm,” explained Clarke. “Because you see everybody come in that appreciates the place and is excited to be there.”

In return, Clarke said ultimately the goal is to make guests feel at home.

Whether it’s to watch a game from the restaurant’s wall of TVs, or relax on the back patio that overlooks a serene lake, Clarke wants his guests to leave with a smile.

“That’s the atmosphere we try to build, and (so far) it has worked for us,” Clark added.

Bleachers Sports Grill is located at 15410 S. Mountain Parkway, Suite 109. For more information, call (480) 759-4034 or visit bleacherssportsgrill.com.

• Diana Martinez is freelancing this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. Reach her at thedianamartinez@gmail.com.

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