After moving to the Castle Rock area from Kalama just months ago, Robin Frazer almost immediately fell in love with her new small-town home. But there was one hitch: Castle Rock lacked an “uptown” bar where she and her friends could grab a drink and appetizers after work.
“We wanted something like the Pastime, but with a different feel,” she said, referencing another Castle Rock bar.
Instead of waiting around for someone else to meet the need, Frazer decided to “open a place where my husband and I would want to go.”
A former bartender and the daughter of a Nevada saloon owner, Frazer started asking Castle Rock bar owners whether they might be willing to sell their businesses to her. She had little luck until she walked into The Oasis and met Rob Kesler.
Kesler, who had owned The Oasis for about three years, agreed to turn over the bar to Frazer, selling the business and the building for about $285,000, Frazer said.
“Then I went home and told my husband, ‘So, I just bought a bar,’ ” Frazer said.
Investing thousands of dollars into a bar was not a risk Frazer said she would ever have imagined herself taking — until her nearly three-year battle with breast cancer.
“I can conquer mountains now,” she said, adding “This is my life, and I’m going to grab it by the horns. I have one chance to live this life.”
Hidden in the new Oasis logo is a nod to that journey: The trunks on the palm trees twist and turn into a pink breast cancer ribbon.
About four months ago, Frazer had the last of a dozen surgeries and was declared cancer free, she said. Also the owner of Salon, Spa and Wines in Longview, Frazer continued to manage her business as she fought her cancer.
“It was hard, but I didn’t stop working, and my employees helped me take care of my business,” she said.
The experience gave her a new perspective on the importance of friends, family and fellowship. She designed her bar with that in mind, she said.
“You know the (TV show) ‘Cheers’? I want it to be just like that,” Frazer said.
As per their agreement, Kesler continued to run the bar through March. Then, Frazer stepped fully into the role as owner the first week of April.
It was a quick switch-up, but Frazer was prepared.
“Before the ink dried with the licensing … I had my key staff already hired,” Frazer said.
Over the course of a single three-day weekend, Frazer, her husband and and a crew of volunteers “scrubbed and repainted” to get the bar ready for its April 8 opening night. The team exposed the ceiling, added lighting, tables, a pool table and darts, and painted over the Oasis-themed cerulean blue walls, Frazer said.
Parts of the design for were inspired by an 11-day vacation she took to Ireland with a group of friends. Although The Oasis is not an Irish pub, it will have the “warm and welcoming” feel of the bars in the Emerald Isle and a top shelf whiskey bar.
The liquor bottles also form the back of the bar, just like in many of the Irish pubs Frazer visited.
“I was worried about the locals when I first came in. This was their place … It was a pretty bold move,” Frazer said of the changes.
But just a few weeks in, the community has already embraced the new atmosphere of The Oasis, Frazer said, and she “now feels it’s a sound investment.” She’s invested about $60,000 out of pocket for the renovations and other changes so far, she said, “and we aren’t done yet.”
Frazer plans to turn the second floor of the building, which was previously leased out as an apartment, into an event hall. She also wants to add rooftop dining options, as well as a weekend mimosa and Bloody Mary bar.
She also plans to keep the bar open throughout the renovations, so customers can “see our progress as we do it.”
By the end of the transformation, she hopes to have the bar she was looking for when she first relocated to Castle Rock.
“I want it to be some place I would go. I want people to be able to say, ‘Meet me at the O for a glass of wine and a bite to eat.’ ”