A design engineer from Raytheon has opened a bar and grill just south of the University of Arizona.

William Rathbun, 52, launched Big Willy's on Monday at 1118 E. Sixth St., replacing Knockouts, a boxing-themed eatery that bowed out after less than a year in business.

The space, about 4,000 square feet just east of North Euclid Avenue, has served as home to a host of restaurants and bars, including Rhino Pub, Belushe's and Gooch's Grill.

Rathbun describes Big Willy's as a family-friendly sports bar geared toward the university crowd.

"The more you support them, the more they are going to support you," he said.

Rathbun has worked at Raytheon for the past 12 years and will split time between the company and his new investment during the week.

Before moving to Tucson for the engineering gig, he ran Wild Bill's Sports Saloon in Darwin, Minn., for nearly a decade.

"I missed the excitement of owning a bar for some reason," Rathbun said. "I missed the atmosphere. I like dealing with people."

Big Willy's will host a barbecue with free food and not-so-free drinks from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Its regular hours are 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Sundays.

Call 342-4858 for more information.

Gerald M. Gay