Now in its fifth year of operation by the Denfeld family, the business is thriving despite the recession

Think of it as Forest Grove's version of "Cheers," only a tad bit more upscale.

That's how Kristina Denfeld, the daughter of owner Ken Denfeld, would like customers at Players Pub, located at 2834-B Pacific Ave., to regard their favorite hangout: a cozy place with friendly bartenders and good food.

And, she added, a healthy spot to boot. "Since its inception in 2007, the pub has always been smoke-free," she noted.

Besides its connectedness to its clientele, Players also has a tight relationship to Godfather's Pizza, which operates next door. Godfather's opened in the early 1980s and has been under the Denfeld's ownership for 25 years.

"In 2007, we decided to expand and add Players Pub, which seats about 40 people," said Denfeld, who heads up marketing and does administrative tasks for both operations. Both restaurants use the same kitchen, helping Players to expand and enhance its food menu.

"We also serve a creative selection of cocktails, a nice selection of local wine and many varieties of beer," she said.

Despite the economic downturn that started about the time it opened its doors, Players has survived - and even thrived - during the Great Recession.

"In the last year we have shown a steady increase in patronage and sales volume," Denfeld said. "Over the course of time, we have upgraded the talents of our bartenders and our customers have responded well to it.

"We've also added a lot of promotional nights and fun events, whether it is around the Trail Blazers, Timbers or [Pacific University's] Boxers."

Live music comes to Players on occasional evenings as well.

After Forest Grove's Prime Time restaurant burned down in November 2011, the crew at Players Pub raised money for the sports bar's displaced employees and their families, trying to help them have a better holiday season. A serendipitous result was an uptick in business at Players in early 2012.

Business over the last four-and-a-half years "started out meeting our expectations," Denfeld said, and has slowly doubled over time. "We have added more HDTVs for enhanced sports viewing and expanded our offerings of beer, wine and spirits," she added.

Players general manager Roger Dickinson - as well as bartenders Georgianna Dickinson, Chris Stone and Steve Richardson - focus most of their energy on making sure the regulars at their pub enjoy themselves with good food, good drinks and special events.

The pub features local wines from David Hill Winery and "burgers, pizza, nachos, egg rolls and fish and chips" are on the bill of fare, Dickinson noted.

"We have live music as the mood strikes," he added, and sometime this summer the pub will welcome D.L. Franklin in for a "new release party" for the local distiller's latest gin concoction.

With Godfather's right next door at 2834-A Pacific Ave. - outfitted for children's birthday parties and celebrations by Little League teams - Denfeld suggested adults "may prefer not to be in the same dining room" with the kids from time to time.

"We're always looking for activities and products that enhance the [ability] of our customers to unwind, relax, imbibe a little and enjoy time with friends," Denfeld said.

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