By Esther Sanchez
Throughout his childhood years growing up in Fontana, Ca., Michael Murphy had a love for art and a desire to express himself artistically. As the owner of the recently opened, Cathedral City hot-spot, BART Lounge, this 28 year-old guy appears to possess more than his fair share of talent and ambition. The son of a successful Las Vegas bar/club owner, Murphy learned the bar business hands-on from the ground up and over the years he has accumulated the necessary skills and experience required to run his own establishment. Having already imagined the concept behind BART years ago, it was a combination of time, circumstance, hard work and focus that made Murphy’s dream a reality.
In case you were wondering, the name “BART” is a combination of the words, “bar” and “art.’’ Chic, edgy decor, vintage video games, pool tables, a legit dance floor surrounded by comfortable booths, multiple balconies and killer happy-hour specials are just a few of the ingredients that help make BART the “coolest little bar that you haven’t heard of yet.” For Murphy, the most crucial feature his venue possesses is the art, and believe me, the art is everywhere. From the brightly colored murals that cover the walls surrounding the main patio to the hand-painted pictures on table-tops to continuously revolving art shows featuring the work of various artists, the place is beaming with a vibe that is both aesthetically charming and hip……… without trying too hard.
Murphy: “I guess, this was really a way for me to combine my love of art with a business that I know and understand. After spending 2 years studying animation at the Art Institute in San Bernardino I decided I was ready for a change of scenery. My dad and siblings were already living in Vegas at the time so I figured I might as well give it a go. When I worked in my dad’s bars I did a little bit of everything over the years. Cashiering, working the door, etc. I actually started doing the DJ thing as well and experienced some success at that.”
Murphy continues: “I had a pretty good run in Vegas but, eventually things started changing. The family members who were living there before me all relocated out of state. Then I ended up losing my job and my girlfriend of 5 years left. It was kind of like life was slapping me in the face. I realized there was nothing keeping me in Vegas anymore. I was ready for some major changes.”
After nearly seven years of building a life in Nevada, Michael Murphy decided to pack up and return to California for a fresh start. Murphy: “I came back and started looking for a job. I would have done just about anything, but nobody would hire me! I started thinking that maybe I should be doing my own thing. I always liked the idea of owning an art gallery. Then I started thinking about how cool it would be if the art gallery was also a place where you could have drinks. The concept evolved over time and eventually became the metal blueprint for BART. I had some money saved and a lot of conceptual ideas for what type of establishment I wanted to run. I just didn’t know where I wanted it to be located.”
After spending several years as a Sin City resident, Murphy knew first-hand that opening a new bar in Las Vegas is a risky venture. Murphy: “The bar scene in Vegas is hugely competitive. Everyone has a bar. There is practically one on every corner. Besides that, I really wanted to be surrounded by artistic people and as everyone knows, the west coast is where so many of them are. I started scouting location possibilities up and down the coast. I checked out Portland, Seattle and L.A. before I ended up in Palm Springs. You know what? This Coachella Valley is pretty bad-ass. There is a cool, retro feel to the area and there is so much culture happening here. The energy and the vibe really spoke to me and it just felt right. There are so many talented and creative people in this area and those are exactly the kind of people I like to surround myself with. This desert really is an artistic hub and I am really excited to have a chance to be a part of it.”
Michael Murphy’s original artwork will be on display throughout the month of June.
From live music to beer-pong tournaments and more, there is always something going on at BART Lounge! Stay updated on events and specials daily on facebook.