It has taken fewer than three years for The Rusty Barrel to earn the love of locals in and around Egg Harbor City, where people simply know it now as "the Barrel."
The two-story building itself dates to the 1930s or '40s, and it's housed a lot of different operations over its lifespan, from nightclub to storage space. Andrew and Allison Yoa took ownership about seven years ago, and in fall 2010, they turned it into a bar with a banquet space on top.
Situated in the midst of a neighborhood on Saint Louis Avenue, it's one of those places that more than a few patrons walk to, and many more drive to from the rural areas miles away.
"We've made a lot of friends," says Allison Yoa about their first few years in business. "We have really enjoyed being there."
Andrew Yoa built the T-shaped bar in the main room with his father, and they also knocked out a wall to extend the space so it's a long corridor that leads to a second bar with games. There also is an outdoor patio next to the building that opens during the summer.
On weekend nights, the entire place is packed, especially Saturdays when there is usually a band set up just near the entrance. On one recent night, local group Blu Cheez and the Spaghetti Kings covered some classic rock while every stool and square foot of floor was occupied.
Behind the bar, they try to keep as much specialty beer as they can, maintaining a diverse selection on their nine taps and stocking as many as 40 different bottled beers at a time. Some current favorites include Victory Storm King Stout and Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA.
Every day offers a special for both drinks and food, too, such as 35-cent clams, 40-cent wings, 50-cent tacos and $1.50 Yuengling pints. Happy hour is 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, but with regular prices of $2.50 for domestic beers and $4 for standard mixed drinks, everything is inexpensive no matter what.
And even though it's undoubtedly a popular spot for people who live nearby, it certainly has that come-one-come-all vibe.
"People really feel welcome there," Yoa says.
Wednesday, April 10: Blondage, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 13: Overworked and Underemployed, 8 p.m.
Saturday, April 20: Jezebel, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, April 24: Blondage, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 27: The Chuck Boone Band, 8 p.m.
Saturday, May 4: Blondage, 8 p.m.