The menu brings the best of both worlds, according to Rankins. With a full menu of seafood staples including oysters, po’boys, seafood boils and fried platters, the restaurant staff will also shake things up with a specialty menu item every three weeks. Rankins said he encourages his chefs to be creative in the kitchen, which has inspired the limited-time seafood dishes. Chicken wings, a sports bar essential, will of course be served, Rankins assured.
Sands Seafood and Sports Bar is debuting with a pre-opening watch party for the UFC fight Saturday, July 8 with main card opponents Alexander Volkanovski and Yair Rodríguez. The event features a limited menu for the evening with Sands’ signature shrimp, shrimp spring rolls, Cleveland “Polish boy” sausage, seafood alfredo and chicken wings.
Aside from providing a venue for a fight watch party, the monthly UFC events will sponsor local fights trying to break into the world of mixed martial arts. MMA fighter TJ Conner, a Huber Heights native, came front-of-mind to Rankins when promoting the event.
“We want to be able to sponsor (local fighters). I’m inviting them to come out, and I want to be able to give them some money and help them out in their journey because I know they have to train,” Rankins said. “While they are working, (training) takes a backseat.”
The soft opening begins July 20, and the restaurant will be open Thursdays through Sundays. Sands plans to celebrate its grand opening on Aug. 31, just ahead of football season.
Rankins understands the importance of football — high school, college and professional — for his customers. So much so he’s giving away his personal seats for Ohio State football games every week. He’s a season ticket holder, but this season he’ll be holding weekly raffles ahead of the games for customers.
One thing Rankins wanted to make sure was baked into his restaurant is an overall love for sports.
“I’m a sports junkie,” Rankins said. “I watch everything. I play golf. I love women’s basketball, men’s basketball. I love football, which is, of course, the big thing.”
No matter the sport or event, he wants to offer guests the opportunity to enjoy their favorite teams, even if it’s not the Buckeyes, Bengals or Browns.
“My son’s a Seattle Seahawks fan. I don’t know how that happened,” Rankins joked. “He can’t get the games. He can’t watch all of his team’s games, and I know there (are) people who are fans of other teams that live in this area. We want to try to offer them the opportunity to come and watch it here because if it doesn’t come on regular TV, they can’t see it or they have to pay for one of those packages.”
Rankins said opening Sands has been a journey, but he is so excited to be able to welcome guests at the end of August.
Sands Seafood and Sports Bar is located at 6254 Chambersburg Road, Huber Heights. For more information, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.