Berks County, PA. 

Named for William Penn's family home in Berkshire, England

 

 

The crown. The mark of royalty. This symbol denotes a tavern with an overall excellence that exceeds the norm.

 The foamy mug marks a specific  feature that is noteworthy.

Normally when a bar goes out of business the location will never again house a tavern. Often the liquor license is sold to a distant entity.  The phoenix marks pubs that have defied the odds and reopened after having been silenced.

Not every pub that says its Irish is Irish but the ones that are and the ones that have great St Patrick's Day events will be identified with this brand.

The screw. The sign of gross injustice or disservice.  AmericanTom believes that people go to their local watering hole to escape their day to day grind and troubles.  In a way, servers and barkeeps are like actors - orchestrating a great play whose cast are their customers. Some of the things that can generate a screw are: great disparity between how regulars and visitors are treated, rudeness or utter incompetence.

Most businesses have a neutral attitude toward motorcyclists.   The HD logo marks taverns that openly welcome those who arrive on scooters.

Inflation sucks. It sucks away your buying power.  If you can still buy a beer for one dollar - you will see this sign.

Seafood is a class of food all by itself.  Clams have little competition - few foods are better when done well and few foods can cause more problems when improperly served. See the clam next to a bar's name and it shows where tasty clams have been enjoyed!

I like Reading, PA. There are a lot of cool things to do here. One of the best is that "our" beer is back. You can have your big, national (and often foreign-owned) brands.   I  am happy that Old Gus has come home!  Taverns serving this delicious brew will have this icon.

Have a cold one on the deck or outside drinking area!

Want to see the most current review?  Just jump to the red dot

 

tom@americantom.com

 

AL'S DIAMOND CABARET
1810 N 5th Street   Reading, PA.  17602

www.alsdiamondcabaret.com

[3-2010] It has been a lonng time since I have been here.  Actually, I think I have only been to Al's once or twice.  The interior has been remodeled and is crisp, clean and more functional.  And, the establishment is now SMOKE FREE.

I remember the big national act that was here a few yrs ago.  The cover charge was high to get in and I was not impressed by the girl on stage who obviously was impressed with herself.

On my weeknight visit the cover was $5 and domestic bottles cost $4.  The doorman was friendly and polite.  The dancers were all relatively local girls and there wasn't a dud in the bunch.  They too were friendly and most were athletically gifted. 

The renovated Al's also benefits from some change in PA law - instead of being BYOB (why it was never reviewed before) it now has several "real" bars and have the feel of a tavern with naked girls walking around vs. its old feel of a strip bar that allows alcohol inside.

ALPENHOF BAVARIAN RESTAURANT
903 Morgantown Rd   Reading   PA   19607   610-373-1624

www.alpenhofonline.com     

        

[2002] The BRIDGE OUT sign is what ended up leading me to this establishment. My curiosity led me to see if the bridge truly was out  or if it actually could be driven over if you really wanted to. The bridge was completely missing so I turned around and  headed out when I  saw the Alpenhof on a small hill to my right. Its unique architecture caught my eye. Parking the truck, I  walked into the woods across the  street to snap a photo of the exterior. As I was aiming, the white lights came on and really made the place look inviting. The glowing  YUENGLING light smiled happily at me from its place of honor in the Bierstube’s ( bar ) window as I walked across the big porch to go in.

Just inside the door is a big gift shop featuring all German items such as Hummels, steins and chocolate. The bar sits off to the right and has three German beers and Yuengling Lager.

I was warmly greeted by barmaid Amy and noticed a German looking man sipping a beer at the end of the bar. He was Manfred Wimmer, the proprietor. Stupidly following habit, I ordered a Lager and was given a basket of pretzels and Good’s chips.    There were no patrons eating at 430PM but soon after people started coming in for the Alpenhof’s authentic  German food. My next beer seemed more appropriate in such a    German place – a good Spaten draft. Tasty! My mouth was craving some bratwurst but the wallet wouldn’t authorize the purchase.  A good reason to return sometime in the near future.

This great building was constructed in 1898 and is listed on the Berks County Register of Historic Places. An accordionist plays on Saturdays  and the beer garden is open throughout the warm months. The guesthouse has 8 rooms – each with private bathroom.    A hearty breakfast is included.     The porch seems like the perfect place to sip a good German beer as the sunsets on a warm Spring day. One of the only drawbacks of this place is its proximity to the Reading sewage treatment plant which reportedly puts out quite a stink at times.

You won’t find many hip young people here and nobody is dancing the night away – but if you want to experience a truly unique place in terms of architecture, atmosphere and food - this is the spot.

[11-2006]   One of the positives about the Alpenhof is how I view it as a stalwart icon in the world of pubs. There is something almost eternal about this place. I walked in to find a handful of middle-aged folks enjoying beers and martinis from their male barkeep.

I wasn't even a third through my beer when Manfred came in, nodded and went behind the bar to tap himself a cold one.  He then sat down on the patron side of the bar and consumed it (also smoking I think).  Almost the identical routine to what I saw during the last entry - FOUR years ago. There is something good  about knowing that things change slowly here.

 [7-2009]   The Alpenhof Restaurant will be closing.  The bar, gift shop and room rentals will continue.

 

 

AMERICAN HOUSE HOTEL
2 North 4th Street, Hamburg,  PA
  19526   610-562-4683

   

  0711: Over 50 different beers available in bottles including Genny, Red Stripe, Tiger, Troegs and Reading.  Compare the difference in facades in the photo above and to left vs. the old one at the bottom of this listing

 

[4-2005]   Many years ago I stopped into the dark dreary American House Hotel. I remember liking it mainly because it is 'under' the rest of the building. I am always fond of pubs that require going down to get to.  Other than that, I remember little more than going in one time after a frigid evening at the annual King Frost Parade.

The American House has been closed for some time - reopening in May 2004. My recent visit came on an early evening as Spring  was still trying to establish itself. I walked in and was greeted by bartender/manager Jeremiah.  While I almost always prefer a female bartender, being greeted is one   of the top criteria on my list of things that make a pub a good pub.  The ice cold beer was soon in place and before long we were talking about the Army and the infantry and having a good time.

The interior has been dramatically improved and the black and white checkered floor and brushed chrome tables lend a 50's look to  the otherwise sports bar theme.

The beers are REALLY cold and fresh and the food menu sounded good. Plans are in place to add a dining establishment upstairs (at ground level) with street access.

When I asked the regulars what is the best night to return - they unanimously stated "Thursdays!".  The AHH apparently has an awesome karaoke   DJ who gets the place rocking.

Friendly staff, food that sounds and looks good, cold fresh beer and attractive female patrons.  A positive first review for sure.

[5-2005]  The manager has changed which is often a sign of a bumpy road ahead.   However, the owner seems to be around  and have things under control. Thursday night karaoke nights absolutely rock - where else can you go to hear Vanilla Ice??

[9-2006] The American House now has their upstairs open for "fine dining". Some days its just a morning breakfast business and others it is pen all day. Their food may be fine but the front of the building is still junky and the rough reputation of the tavern seems to me like detractors    from convincing people the upstairs is fine dining.

[11-2007] Downtown Hamburg is really coming along - MANY of the businesses have new facades and this includes the American House.  I almost didn't know what to do with the fancy new tavern and restaurant entrances.

Little have changed inside the below ground taproom so I was able to navigate to the bar by memory.  My cold, fresh draft Reading was only $1.25 during their 4-7PM Happy Hour.  Even at full price it is just $1.75.

The barmaid/manager said the karaoke nights no longer draw the large, insane and inarguably fun crowds that I remembered from 2 or 3 yrs ago.  She is working on changing things.

Maybe the biggest claim to fame the AH has at the moment is the 55+ types of bottled beer for sale. Everything from Pabst to Troegs.  You won't find that much selection at many places.

The bar manager said they are hard at work converting 2 of the upstairs floors to hotel rooms. I wonder if many years ago the American House Hotel actually had hotel rooms where these are going in.  Some of the suites will have gas fireplaces and most will have jacuzzi tubs.  They already have a long-term corporate client who will be using the room for their in-town workers.

 

           

1: Nice looking exterior in "downtown" Hamburg      2: On the ball!      3: Spinning the karaoke book    4: Brie   

[10-2008] Reviewer: ET  Also, we dined at the American House Hotel in Hamburg for a Sunday brunch in September and for a Saturday evening meal just a week ago...super!!!  Some of the best food and service I've had in these parts.  Reasonable prices for the quality and presentation.  We received a tour of the completed upstairs rooms and the bar in the basement...it is now a sports bar and while not usually open in Sundays, our waitress, who expected to manage the downstairs bar, said they would be open Sunday afternoons and nights when there is an NFL game...when we informed her that it was the 1st week of the NFL season and that the Eagles were playing as we spoke, she responded, "Oh."  But I can't emphasize enough how good the meals are in the dining room!

 

(Woody & Arlene's) AMERICAN HOUSE
Leesport, PA.

   

[12-2006]  I am 90% sure that years ago I was at a Leesport-area bar called "O'Flanagan's" or some other equally Irishy name.  I remember having a great time there.

Nobody seems to be able to give me even the slightest insight into whether this memory is a true one or some super vivid dream that still lingers in my head.

Today I drove into Leesport in search of this pub and soon came to this American House.  It's sleepy neighborhood location is right on the railroad tracks and a small dirt pull off makes for easy parking across the street.

One of the things I love seeing in winter are business with their front doors open.  It really doesn't matter if there is a screen/storm door or not -     this looking always seems very inviting.  Obviously few businesses are going to waste heating money   doing this so its usually only beer distributors (with their heat producing coolers) who produce this look.

The American House was festively decorated as I walked in through the storm-door only entrance.  Several crusty old guys sat at the bar as they were served by a slightly plump barmaid in flip flops. The inside of this tavern is quite big with a separate pool/dining room and possibly another room behind the left side of the bar.

The TV should have been showing sports at 1P on a Saturday but instead I was treated to a PBS show.  One of the younger guys hollered out "is this that selltick singing show?".  After he bitched someone else chimed in, "like you wouldn't bang these broads?"

LOTS of trinkets in this bar - from firefighting things to old Reading beer items.  Nice t-shirts but the $18 price is a bit salty.

 

 

 BAR-B-Q PIT
4741 Penn Ave (Route 422)   Sinking Spring  PA     19608   610-678-9696

     

 

[9-2006]  The Bar-B-Q Pit is a place that I should have stopped at years ago. Labor Day turned out to be sunny and mild after several days cloudiness and rain from the storm "Ernesto".

Three sides of the joint were lined with motorcycles when I pulled in. Most were Harleys and many were nice enough that it looked like a  decent-sized bike show was underway.

The open air bar area is pretty nice with plenty of stools that face 422 so you can drink a beer and watch the world go by.  I thought the $2.25 for plastic cup of beer was expensive but I guess you are paying for the atmosphere.

There is a 2nd bar inside as well as the official sit down eating area.

   

 [7-2007]  In the 70s on the first day of July? I will take it.  A relaxing ride on 422 to the Pit.  As expected, there were nearly 100 cycles in the lot as people were there to eat, drink and talk.

Lager bottles were on special for $2 and inside you could grab a Lions Head bottle for $1.50.  Far better than my previous review and the overpriced plastic cups of Lager for $2.25.

 

BARBON'S TAVERN
1006 New Holland Rd, Reading, PA  19607   610-775-4836

   

[11-2005]  Barbon's advertises their weekly "poor man's lobster" special which turned out to be a fish dish. It must be popular enough to  warrant it being listed in the paper every week.  Someday I will try it.

The inside of this business was dark and the jukebox was playing decent tunes. If Barbon's is a "college bar" there was no evidence of it during  my first visit. A bartender was making Bloody Marys while our Angela tapped our beer.  The bartender  was taking himself way too seriously and served as our source of amusement while we ate.

[3-17-2006 - St Patrick's Day]    Reading is slowly gaining more and more Irishy places and places to go on St Patrick's Day.  Barbon's wake has been on my list of things to do for sometime.

Owner Frank was spiffying himself up when I arrived - preparing for his entry into the casket for the wake.  I try to never read other tavern reviews online as I do not want to be influenced. I have seen www.pubcrawler.com writeups about Barbon's and there are several strongly worded anti-Frank write-ups.  Who knows if there is validity to any of them but tonite he was personable and seemed normal enough.

I think I was the only one in the place who DIDN'T know Frank.

The bar was being tended by the very tanned Dawn.  Our small group drank up all the $3 Landshark Lagers as a MC tried to entice the females to show their boobs to the dead guy in the casket in exchange  for a free drink.

Dawn's shift soon ended (after telling me, "I was in a schoolgirl outfit but just went home and changed because I was cold") and she came around to the public side of the bar.  A wild combination was made with her, the well-spoken and short-skirted Aretha and Jill the Welsh Wonder.

The only drawback was the ringleader of a pack of college boys.  This jackass was talking smack about the song Danny Boy and the color of Aretha's skin.  I guess there is one in every crowd.

 

         

 

[3-17-2010 - St Patrick's Day]    St Pattys festivities always occur at Barbon's which is a reassuring stability in unstable times.  The smoke was thick and nasty when I arrived but my mind was distracted for a bit by a new gimmick - a mechanical dolphin!

Purchased from somewhere in St Peter's Village for an undisclosed amount the slippery porpoise has a new purpose - to amuse the patrons as men and women alike climb onto its back for a 25 cent ride.  After you survive the (reportedly) slightly nauseating gyrations you get to sign your name in the book!

[3-17-2011 - St Patrick's Day]  Another year has passed and Barbon's Mechanical Porpoise has again reared its dorsal fin. It's amazing how a casket, gyrating dolphin and a hearse can combine to cause the ladies to do all sorts of crazy things!

This tavern is a fun place to stop on the green holiday but it is small and still allows smoking. This combination can sometimes cause conditions to be quite overwhelming.

BEACHMEE'S BISTRO
16 Columbia Ave   Reading, PA  19606   610-898-1590

[1-2008]  My 7PM mid-week meeting location was chosen by the person I was planning to meet.  In order to cover the business that needed covering me needed a place that was quiet enough to talk and also that served beer.

Beachmee's was suggested.  I tried to pull up the website but it is no longer live.  I never understand why businesses let their pages expire as the cost is minimal and it projects shabbiness to have it die on the vine.

I inquired about a Reading Beer and was told "we don't sell that anymore".  Then I asked for a Lager.  Nope, out of draft, bottles and cans. Unreal. And this was NOT on a Monday.

BEVERLY HILLS TAVERN
710 Old Friztown Rd    Sinking Spring, PA  19608   610-777-4516

www.beverlyhillstavern.com

[12-22-03]  One of the neat things about the BHT is its consistency and longevity. Housing developments and businesses  creep closer every   year but it is still very easy to imagine settlers drinking beer in front of the same fireplace that warms customers today. The main building was        built with heavy stones that are most likely from nearby fields.

Remodeling has replaced a musty outbuilding summer bar and sandy kabana area with a new building and a much bigger patio. The pond and its Gilligans Island-ish marooned boat, as well as a nice big tree, are gone. The price of progress I guess. The general air of the restaurant is a bit      uppity although people dine there in street clothes. The food that I have eaten here has been quite good.

Supposedly, the new owners of the BHT are the same people who owned the California Bar & Grill. I remember that the California  B&G had a policy about not allowing any motorcycles. I hope this issue has been corrected. I will look into that and make an update.

I am looking forward to returning to the BHT on a warm summer night.

[3-2007] The purpose of tonight's visit was for our group to try the BHTs advertised 15c shrimp and wings.  Our group gathered at a table and before long the waitress came over.  I ordered 2 dozen shrimp and was told that I couldn't do that. Shrimp (and wings) must be ordered in increments of 5 or 10.

I have eaten shrimp and wings in bars from sea to shining sea and I KNOW that wings have never been sold in anything other than half dozen or dozen increments and shrimp that way or by the pounds or half pounds. When I asked why I couldn't get two dozen shrimp she said it "would be too hard for the cooks to count them out".  Looking around, I saw almost nobody else eating shrimp so it wasn't like there were 100s of people in the steamed shrimp que.

So, I ordered 30 and since this was indeed a multiple of both 5 and 10 - she was able to take my order.

The shrimp were bland (with almost no hint of Old Bay) and most were VERY soggy  - some even reaching the state of mushiness.  Steamed shrimp should be firm and meaty not soggy and mushy.

The others reported the wings were good with the hot wings even causing its consumer to break into a sweat.

I asked the waitress if they served Reading Beer and she looked at me like I was asking the stupidest question on Earth. It was clear she had NO idea that Reading Beer is again being brewed in Reading.

At this point I was ready to go to the other side and enjoy the quiet indoor bar in the old section of the compound. She said that it was already closed as each night one side shuts down way earlier than the other.  As far as the two indoor bars go I would choose the rustic old house side bar (and its fireplace in season) vs. the loud and bright sportsbar.  The outdoor deck and tiki bar would probably beat both in the warm months.

A bottle of Rolling Rock and a Lager draft totaled $7.50 - a sum that I think is outrageous.  I might pay that on a warm summer's night, outside with several hundred other Berks Countians as we all enjoy the stars and fresh air - but that's a major rip inside on a Thursday night in March.

 

BILL's PLACE
437 S 11th Street, Reading PA  19602   610-378-9194

BIXLER'S LODGE
1456 Friedensburg Rd   Reading(Stony Creek)   PA   19606   610-779-9936

www.countycorner.com/members/bixlers/  

[12-2005]  In the Wild Wild West guys would sit around the saloon drinking warm beer from kegs while wearing their pistols  and stacking  their rifles against the bar or table. Other then the occasional shooting or gunfight - everyone got along.

Today, its pretty rare to find guns in a tavern.  Except for Franz's in Lebanon I can't think of any other bars with firearms on display.

 

BLUE MARSH CANTEEN
5027 Bernville Rd (Rt 183)  Bernville, PA 19506   610-488-1088

[2-2011]  In

BORELLI'S HOTEL
49 S Third Street, Reading, PA  19602   610-372-8861

       

  

[11-2007] Borelli's is a dark, smoky place that is frequented by people of all colors and work ethics.  I once told someone that I had eaten some very good pizza here and they lamented that I should be thankful to have escaped unharmed.  I have never felt that but all my stops have been during the day or with a group.  I know they have good pizza.

Without a doubt the best thing I have seen at Borelli's is family member barmaid Rosa.  Her physical appeal is matched by her ability to control the suds-guzzling, almost exclusively male crowd.

 

 

BREWER'S BAR & GRILL  
formerly Kaley's Korner

101 S Third Ave   Reading, PA  19611        

 

       

[1-2006] Kaley's is as well-known for its sandwiches as it is for being in close proximity to the infamous  Penn View Motel. With the Penn View   next door you never know what sort of person might be hanging around outside.

I can't really say why I occasionally come back to Kaley's.  The one frequent barmaid is always disinterested and the Philly steaks are mediocre at best. At least they put Nextel Cup races on without having to be asked. There is just something about this sort of skuzzy dive that I return to.

[7-2006] An Independence Day stop at Kaley's found the place closed and being gutted.  Fearing that the urban revival that will soon remove the PennView might be affecting KK, I stopped     and asked the construction guy what was up. He said the business will soon reopen under new    ownership, featuring the same style of bar and takeout, and be called "Brewer's".

[8-2006] Tipster reports the new owners are the same people who owned the original Shorty's.

[9-2006] Brewer's is open. Will get there soon to see what's going on.  Newspaper ad lists bar open  11A-2A 7 days a week.  The grill is open  11A-10P.

[10-2006 Reviewer: C-SHELL]  The inside has been redone and it definitely doesn't have that scummy feel/look (but its not trendy either).  The bar is now 4 sided instead of being up against the back wall.

There are several 2 seater tables set around the walls but the larger group tables are gone. The small back room on the left when you enter is now filled with coolers for take-out beer.

You will like the decor. The walls are covered with black and white photos of old breweries, Reading and Sunshine beer signs, and old coaster collection, import beer signs. There's a lot to look at.

My friend and I paid $7 for a Miller Lite and a Malibu Bay Breeze. The beer is served in the large beer glasses. I eavesdropped on the guy beside me when he ordered a Lager to find out that it cost $2.50. They also serve beer in mugs. Happy hour is 5-7 with $1 mugs, $2 import mugs and $2  mixed drinks.

There is one LARGE problem to ruin your enjoyment of this bar or maybe I should say 2 problems. There were 2 rather LARGE MEN working the bar.   I know you appreciate the value of attractive women tending bar but as a woman...I didn't mind the men. Even the person working in the beer take-out room was a fairly large man. We decided that they must look for that "bouncer" look when they hire employees. We were told that all the former Kaley's employees were let go.

1: The only separate area of the bar, the small backroom, is now all coolers    2: Door sign   3: Destruction of the Pennview is imminent
 

[11-2006] Although I am sad to see that the dirty little back room has been changed into the 6 pack sales place, the change is partially forgiven by looking at the many different types of beer   for sale.  I noticed that Schmidt's ( which I didn't know was even still being brewed ) was actually 5c/6pk MORE than Yuengling Lager. That's surprising.

The inside of this bar is 180degrees from what it used to be.

[2-2007] The Pennview is gone and the lot is a giant hole in the ground. Someone commented that they probably had to dig down that deep to  get rid of all the funk from what went on at the old motel. 

It was great to see the READING tap standing proudly next to Yuengling Lager and the national brands. The female (thats a first!) bartender tapped  my $1.75 draft. It was light in color and    proved to be cold and tasty.  As I savored this hometown brew I looked around the room at the many photos of Reading's glorious brewing history.  I also watched what people drank.  As is the trend everywhere, most people were having national brands. Several were drinking Yuengling Lager. None that I saw were having a Reading. Hopefully this will change and people will support their namesake.

2: The lovely and smiling Celia

[9-2007] I was told that Brewer's no longer has Reading on tap.  Maybe they have it in bottles?

[11-2007] Brewer's almost earned a SCREW icon this weekend.  The inside of the bar is decorated with all sorts of photos and trinkets from Reading's brewing heyday. Much of this stuff     is Reading Beer.

When Reading Beer was reincarnated Brewer's put it on tap.  They didn't give it very long before taking it off.  When it was bottled they didn't stock them.  I think that's BS.  If I owned a bar in Reading and someone made Reading Beer I would keep it on hand even if it tasted like crap and cost $5 a serving.  Hometown pride.   Not at this place.  The barmaid even said that "a lot of people ask for it".

Brewer's saving grace was barmaid Celia.  A gem.  Pretty AND personable. Two rare qualities in this day and age.  Its been a long time since I have met a bartender who approaches her customers with a big smile and friendly words.

[1-2011] H. Jackson Brown is quoted as saying, "Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity"  Three years have passed since I last reviewed Brewer's but not much has changed. Sitting by the corrugated metal walls was like sitting by a wall with a hole in it - the icy January wind blew right under the window sills - someone obviously knew this was a problem as the windows were winterized with plastic. Next, invest in a little caulk. Seriously, it was bad enough that it made that seat no fun.  Then my Lager came and it was sour. Sour. Surely this bar serves enough Lager for it not to be old so I can only assume that their tap lines are dirty.

Missed opportunity - a nice, small, neighborhood bar that is well decorated and well promoted.  What's missing is consistent staffing and walls that don't risk frostbite.



THE BRICK HOUSE PUB
Formerly "The Haunt"

1348 Brooke Blvd    Reading, PA  19602

       

[6-2006] With an hour to kill I decided to head over to Kenhorst to see what has happened to the Haunt. To my pleasant surprise I found the Haunt gone and a fresh new sign hanging out front.

Opening the door I was instantly impressed with the bright, clean inside.  No drooling ogre at the bar either.  The co-owner was tending bar happily served me a nice cold Lager. He said he has owned this pub for about 4 months now and I complimented him on the significant improvement.

He told me, almost apologetically, that he normally has nice-looking females tending bar.  This is now a nice neighborhood bar - serving food and  even having a different $1 draft each night from 3-6P (including Smythwicks and Lager).

Because of the tremendous turnaround I am awarding The Brick House a phoenix icon.

[11-2006] The Brick House is now nice enough that its worth going to as a primary destination. My mid-week stop here found the tavern empty and the barmaid introverted and bundled      in a heavy coat. The pint Lagers were $2.25 but fresh and cold. The mens room has old-fashioned full-sized urinals - something every bar bathroom should have. A neat case above it     showcases a myriad of beer coasters.

 

CAFE WALDORF
658 North 6th St,  Reading   PA 19601  610-373-6111

www.cafewaldorf.com

     

   

[12-2007]   I admit that I am sort of a geek when it comes to technology. Not a geek geek like Kip on Napoleon Dynamite but just in the fact that I like to have the latest and greatest gadgets.  Mainly this means computer and photo stuff as I am not into music in that way.

Recently I was gifted a fabulous Garmin Nuvi auto GPS.  It's great and has an easy to use color touch screen and 10s of 1000s of pre-loaded points of interest.  One of the categories is TAVERNS.  While not every bar is included zillions are.  This means you could drive anywhere in the USA and with a few easy screen touches you are being lead to a bar by $24,000,000,000 in US Government satellites.

Driving through Reading with a few extra hours I let the Garmin take me to a bar. The closest one to come up was the Cafe Waldorf.  I can honestly say that I do not recall ever having heard of this establishment.

The outside of the building looks very nice - old-fashioned with its brick exterior but clean and welcoming with etched glass, awnings, a US Flag and a Reading beer banner over the doorway.

My first impression when I walked in was (literally) "Holy Cow!" as the inside is really, really nice and the attractive blonde barmaid was dressed in some sort of tuxedo-ish getup.

My $2.50 Reading draft was cold and fresh.  I noticed that they did not have Lager on tap and Debi told me that they actually REMOVED LAGER to make room for RB.  Wow! I have never heard of that.  Personally, I would remove a foreign-owned beer and not Lager but she also told me that the owner said he feels obligated to support Reading.  And its selling well.

The backbar is over 100 yrs old and matches the nautical theme of the inside of this business.  Sharks and maidenheads (that is the first time that word has been used here) adorn the walls.  The place exudes class without snottiness.

Debi has worked here for 10 years and was nice enough to show me the upstairs lounge and cigar smoking area. Wow!  Big lounge chairs and its own bar contribute to an intimacy that is rare in our fair city.

I looked in todays Reading Eagle and found the Waldorf ad. I realized that I have seen it many times but never paid it attention as it prominently features MARTINI .  After the infamous "my first martini made me sicker than any alcohol I have ever consumed and I still get half sick even thinking of a martini" incident I am still quick to ignore martini ads.

  This is a very nice place.  I have attached the Reading icon and am awarding it The Crown of Excellence.

 

1: Owner Dyke Becker appreciates the history of Reading and its taverns   2: Part of the beautifully etched front window

[1-2008] Sometime I get too fixated on the 'clinical' end of this hobby - trying to get a good photograph of the exterior and sign of a bar or even a few representative inside shots. One of   my resolutions for 2008 is to try to sit down with the owners or longtime managers or employees of taverns and just listen to their tales.

Today I stopped in at the Waldorf and before long got to meet the owner.  This is a guy who has a real sense of the history of Reading and its vast bar, brewing and beer background.  And his place in it.

I got to return to the upstairs lounge and see some artifacts.  I will return soon and photograph them and take written notes so I can adequately convey their great stories.

Another great stop at this great bar.

[1-2010 Reviewer: BEDS]  Just wanted to let you know I stopped in to the Cafe Waldorf in reading recently and was very pleased.  Food was great, service great and they now have a handpump serving cask beer!  excellent.  I think only 2 other places in Reading have one.  Unfortunately the place was fairly empty on a Saturday night... good for our service but with the quality of the food, they deserve better.  Maybe it was just "slow January"

 

CALIFORNIA BAR  &  GRILL
Route 724 & Mountain Rd  Shillington   PA   19607   610-777-7224

N40  17.904   W75  56.568     

    

[1-2-2006]  The California Bar & Grill always has a lot of visual appeal. The large painted mural on the wall has dozens of  scenes of life in The Golden State.

The food always looks good and has been tasty every time I have eaten there.

Today's barmaid was an attractive blonde - surfer-girl in appearance - who mentioned something to one of the regulars about it being her "first day back". I didn't hear what she was   back from. Yuengling Lagers are pricey at $2.75.  Most of the neon lights are tropical themed or have CALIFORNIA on them.

A large lady sat at one table - munching on a salad while her 12 or 13yr old son sat off to the side playing video games.  I'm pretty sure she doesn't have to worry about parent of the year   honors.

A geeky looking guy came in and deployed his laptop and started pounding away while talking on his cell. I guess this means that this bar has wireless access but strangely enough he never ordered food or drink.

 

 


 

CHAMPION'S SPORTS BAR & GRILLE  
formerly "The Hideout"

217 Catherine Street    Reading (Shillington)  PA 
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=45753674

 

Champion's Has Been Awarded The Crown of Excellence

 

 

1: Kudos to Champions for having a St Pattys Day Leprechaun   2: Chef Rod

[3-17-2011 St Patrick's Day]  I have decided I do not like the top down format that I have tried here.  But, it will probably stay for awhile as this is a huge listing and I am not motivated to realign it at the moment.

Made several recent stops at Champions and this review is a hodgepodge of them all.  Chef Rod made a pretty good cheesesteak which tasted great but needed some chips and a pickle alongside.  I may have dreamed this but I think Champions is now SMOKEFREE.  There were a bunch of smokers outside and I know a buttcan has been there for ages but I thought people were still puffing away inside. Either way, that's a big step up if it happened.

Back to food, sadly the kitchen didn't remain open all night on St Patty's.  There are a few nights each year when people really need fed and this is one of them.

Appealing lasses are always a selling point of this jook and usually they have personalities to at least come close to their physical appeal.  Mike has a 19 year old working now who looks amazing in her Daisy Dukes but she sours people with her attitude. I heard several people comment on her being a thing that sounds like the part of my truck that I use to tow the boat. Being cute isn't enough when your personality sucks. She needs a tune-up or a pink slip.

[1-2008] This listing is now in EXPERIMENTAL FORMAT.  The most current logs are at the top so you read the freshest reviews and see the newest photos first. It is the reverse of every other log on the site.  It makes sense not to be seeing the first reviews as ones that may be YEARS old.  However, I am not sure of the readability of this layout so future changes will depend on this test.  :p  So, if you want to read the review in oldest to newest format - just start at the bottom and scroll UP.

 

     

1,2:  Christmas 2007   3: AnnaMae, oh AnnaMae.  4: Being hot = tips.

[11-2007] A new crop of barmaids has sprung up at Champions.  AnnaMae is only working one day per week.  Grabbed some free Saturday wings and $1 Pilsner glass Lager.  Angela's        belly is out to there as her February due date approaches.  She lamented about being pale.  While she looks fine it is a look I don't think I have previously seen her with.

[7-2007] Reopened with some slight cosmetic differences inside.

[6-2007] Champions remains closed for renovation. You don't realize how much you miss this place until it is not open.

[4-2007] A Saturday afternoon at Champion's.  I didn't have lunch but no worries - Champion's kitchen is open all weekend.  Asked the ever-lovely Anna Mae for a cold Reading beer.  No Reading beer anymore. Sad.  And.... no FOOD.  The kitchen is closed until JUNE. Nobody seemed to know why. Champions has always been known as a place where you can get good food   almost anytime.  One of the patron's grumbled, "no food here because all his energy is going into his new bar"

   

1,2,3:  AnnaMae - she can use a bottle opener or pool cue for good or as a weapon of mass destruction! 

[3-2007] I am not sure why I am still surprised to walk into Champion's and find a previously unseen incredible looking barmaid. I guess I see Reading's  supply of really good looking female bartenders as sort of like a vein of gold - it just has to run out. But at Champion's the laws of science are defied as all the female staff are amazing.  This Monday afternoon found the bar under the control of Anna Mae. Another beauty - tall, outgoing and built more than adequately to break the heart of any man foolish enough to think he has a chance with her.

My Reading Beer was cold and delicious. Only having the time for one - I vowed to return soon.

[2-2007] It's been awhile since I have been to Champions. The normally bad parking situation was only worse because of the recent snow and ice.   Today's barmaid was Savannah - a       pixie-like brunette wearing a green Guinness t-shirt. Sporting a bunch of tattoos and piercings, and being quite attractive, she fits in perfectly at Champions. Introducing myself she extended her hand and gave me a sturdy handshake. Impressive. She works Monday days and Wed nights.

   

1: Ashley, November 2006   2: Angela with a delicious Reading Beer  3: Anna Mae, April 2007

[9-2006]  Today's Lager was one of the freshest I have had in a long time. Delicious and cold.  Michelle was tending bar  as the rainy pre-Tropical   Storm Ernesto day drove many people indoors.  With so many good looking female staffers here it is hard to  be more exceptional than the others.      Michelle's denim shorts and flip flop combo seemed to stun more than one brew-guzzling male.  This athlete's tanned, chiseled legs reflected every  single squat she has ever done and every mile she has every run. Wow.

 

[8-2006]  Several months ago I vaguely recall a barroom conversation about someone who was in Playboy. I did listen to the details but it seems the center of their interest was none other   than barmaid Heather.  Today I found out that not only was she in the "Girls of My Space" pictorial   but that she is one of the subjects of a new reality TV show. 

One Ocean View debuted July 31st on ABC and is described as: 

"The summer sizzles at One Ocean View, as 11 single New Yorkers descend on Fire Island to laugh, love and search for romance.

Fire Island sizzles at One Ocean View, the summer share beach house where eleven attractive, single, career-driven New Yorkers flee Manhattan each Friday to  escape the soaring city temperatures for a    different kind of heat.

One Ocean View is a show about people old enough to have real jobs, issues and baggage, but still young enough to leave all that behind and have a great time.     Fun, flings and nights      filled with romance heat up as the days grow shorter and the pressure builds to make this a summer to remember.


Heather's bio states: "The 27-year-old former brunette tomboy has morphed into a blonde bombshell who has posed for a men's magazine. She is ready to find an    accomplished       man to take home to meet her parents."  

With all the crime and insanity in Reading I wonder why the Reading Eagle didn't make this a front page story?  What is more American than a small-town girl making it onto a TV show -         even if it is a reality show?

The show has not been continued. Three episodes and it is in a holding pattern

       

1: Heather's official PR bio page      2,3,4: Screen shots from episode 2 

 

[8-2006]  The "Jimmy D & Friends" band was just getting started when I stopped in this evening.  This band had  a great sound and I wish I could have stayed longer to hear more of what    they had in store. And, for some reason, a Lager draft was only $1.00!!

Angela must have been drinking from the same spring as Rachel. They both seem to have encountered the same (stunning) anatomical changes. :p  Pics posted soon.  She looks amazing.

The Sunday opener is now Nikki.  Another hottie hired at Champion's. Her turquoise shirt perfectly matched the turquoise thong that peeked from her jeans as she setup the bar for business.    You have to respect someone who coordinates their clothes! :-p

         

1: Amy     2: June 2006 Ad    3,4,5: Naughty Schoolgirl Night  6: The hottest librarian in Reading

[6-2006]  My Wednesday afternoon one-beer stop ( that turned into three ) brought the sad news that Rachel no longer is employed here. I suspected this when I had not seen her last      month or noticed her name on the schedule on the wall.

My intuition always lead me to believe that she was destined for bigger towns than Reading - based on her work down south for bike weeks  as well  as her recent cosmetic enhancements.

Thankfully, almost all of my woe was alleviated by my meeting the "new" barmaid, Amy. Typical of the women that work here - she is quite attractive and seemed extremely personable and efficient in her mission of delivering food and drink to hungry and thirsty patrons.  She seemed to already have the affection of many of her customers.

Champions retains its reputation as having some of the most attractive barmaids in Reading.

Outside, the parking lot war with Fred's Music Store continues.  A sign on the Fred's side states that tavern patrons who park in the music store lot (even after hours) will be ticketed. A sign        on the Champion's side says that the pavement by the bar is private property and not a thoroughfare and any music store patrons who drive through could be fined for trespassing.  Kind of funny but also pretty sad as the customers of both businesses have nothing to do with mentality of the powers that be.

[3-2006] Bachelor party night.  A vanload of guys I used to work with in York - mainly cops, firefighter and medics - took off on a booze cruise from York to Harrisburg to Reading. It was  "Johnny Love's" last hurrah before marital bliss. I caught up to them at Al's where I found everyone to  be in good shape. I never understood bachelor parties where the goal was to get the bachelor hammered.  Far more enjoyable when everyone can hangout and BS without people staggering or throwing up.  Sadly, the crew decided to leave Al's (my first time there) just as the   two 'schoolgirls'  were coming on stage.  Their stomachs lead them to more foody places and our destination was Champion's.

One of the nitwits lost his ID and couldn't get in and the kitchen was closed after 11PM but the crowd was rocking and everyone seemed to be   having a good time. It was decided that the hungriest of the bunch (all but three of us) would go down the road to Dempsey's.  Rachel worked the  bar and shot my a big smile and a hug when she saw me. This is what makes her one   of the best barmaids in the US.  As always, she looked   stunning - but especially stunning after a bit of cosmetic enhancement. Her comment, "Aren't they incredible?". Yes indeed, Ma'am, they are!

It's that time of year again - Daytona Bike Week - so she will be jetting south to work for a week in sunny Florida.  With her new look I'm sure  she will be more popular than ever. 

I also met Angela's boyfriend and got to see his awesome new Sony 8+mp digital camera with touch screen.  I am now 100% Sony and this little  gem immediately made me want one. Angela is hot but this Cyber-Shot is hotter!!!  :-)

[1-2006] Sat down today to a moderately busy crowd. The barmaid was down by the cash register but facing me.  Holding a $20 bill I waited for her to come over and take my order. Twice   she looked right at me before doing something else.  Thinking to myself that I generally come to a bar to drink a beer - I stuffed the money into my pants pocket and departed without spending a dime or drinking a drop.

[12-2005]  A quick stop at Champion's on the Wednesday before Christmas found a cold beer and a barmaid I had not seen   before. True to precedent,  she was young, pretty and wearing     a shirt that revealed a large amt of her impressively inked lower back.  Seemingly overwhelmed by  the throngs of thirsty male patrons - she scurried back and forth without smile or comment. Hopefully, she isn't like that on a normal day or maybe she is new or hates Christmas.  Physically, she fits right into Champion's SOP of hiring beautiful women but was outside the parameters of them also being social able.

[10-2005] Rachel is back from her jaunt to Myrtle Beach.  Wearing her daytime clothes (flip-flops, jeans, shirt and hair down) she looked far different than the cowgirl in the photo above.   Either way, her radiant smile and charming personality had her lunchtime customers mesmerized. She very well may be the best bartender I have encountered in my worldly travels.

She keeps the drinks filled, smiles, pays attention to customers and is personable beyond all modern standards of customer service.  The sexy vixen who oozed sexuality, ala Marilyn Monroe, i      n the cowgirls pics, was now transformed into the girl next door who epitomized the old phrase "cute as a button".  When one patron finished his meal she complimented him on leaving a "happy plate" and soon after was telling another fellow about how she accompanies her niece to her Brownie troop meetings.  You just don't find bartenders like this very often.

[9-2005]  Owner Mike was sitting at the bar on a beautiful sunny Wednesday afternoon but Rachel was not behind it. Seems she had jetted off to Myrtle Beach's Bike Week for a few days.  A local tavern there pays to bring her down so she can work her magic on the bikers. Not a bad deal especially since she has a boss that allows her to do so.  College student Angela ably handled the day   shift in her absence as she fretted through the Auto Locator in search of an interim vehicle.

Champion's has $1 Yuengling drafts (I forget which night) and a free wing buffet on Saturday afternoons for college football watching as well as $1   off their reasonably priced sandwiches during the lunch hour.

[9-2005]  I always liked the Hideout. It sat in an alley next to a fire company. It was small and kind of dumpy and had poor parking. The perfect little neighborhood bar.

One day the Hideout was closed and a sign said that it would reopen after renovation.  This is usually the kiss of death for a bar.  After about a year the sign came down and it reopened as the unimaginatively-named Champions Sports Bar & Grille.  The building is nicer inside but it hasn't lost its dive bar feel. 

My first visit since the reopening happened on a nice September Thursday evening. The bar was pretty full and the patrons ranged  from near-Yuppie to several members of the Sons of Satan MC.  I soon saw what the fuss was about when I met barmaid Rachel.

There are many attractive barmaids but few who match Rachel's combination of looks, attire and personality. She is truly a gem and quick to flash her great smile.

Owner Mike is reportedly known for hiring really squared away workers and the off-duty vixen at the end of bar appeared to be equally attractive and likeable.

Even though I think the sports bar concept is beat (too many TVs that cause customers to be unable to really enjoy any one game) - it still is not enough to tarnish this shining star.

 

                          

   

2-5:  Rachel      6-7 Angela as a summertime blonde and    8: The early winter brunette  9: Michelle - new to bartending  and Champion's after years of waitressing     10: Angela and her boyfriend   13: Rachel's money well-invested          14: "Jimmy D & Friends" rocking 8/5/06

 

 

COACHLIGHT TAVERN 
418 S 19th Street (Corner of Cotton St)  Reading   PA  19606 

         

1: Temporarily sign-less     3: Caught by the owner in Lewes, DE     4: Not too many bars have a patriotic horseshoe crab  on the wall 

 

[11-2006] Penn State Saturday. kickoff was early today so I headed out to find a bar where I could watch the game. Boo Boo's called my name just because I love the place but the neon signs were dark and my car kept moving down Cotton Street.

Coming to the end of the line I saw a tavern with no sign but a nice look - brick exterior and a large gingko tree.

With the main door standing open and several large windows - the inside of the bar had a lot of light streaming in. Penn State was indeed on the TV as several people sat over their beers.

Artie the bartender told a lady that there wasn't any food yet as all the grill and fryer were turned off. The lone female patron commented that we should all consider that lucky as Artie can't cook to save his life.  She said the owner, Phil, can really cook and makes the "best burgers in Berks County". That's a pretty high recommendation.

The Coach Light is a clean, well-decorated tavern. The $1.50 Lagers were cold and fresh and the inside was well decorated in beer themed items. The top of the walls were surrounded by old beer trays.

Before too long a Road King riding customer began telling tales of Reading and its bars and people. He said how the many manufacturing businesses in Reading kept many local bars in business. The workers would stop in before their shift for a beer or two, sometimes hit the place at lunchtime and usually stop for a few afterwards. Cotton Street was one of the best examples of this with a bar on almost every corner. He said that everything  changed as many businesses closed and "the animals took over the neighborhood". With Cotton Street being utterly unsafe at night its hard to disagree with him.

Meanwhile, Debbie is hollering at the zebras who are making bad calls against PSU and Artie has broken out the peanuts. Owner Phil arrives and  shows me his really nice finished basement. You have to admire a guy who works a fulltime job and keeps a neighborhood pub running on the  side.

St Patrick's Day is a big deal here with a piper and Irish wake. I am planning to add the Coachlight to my 3/17/07 itinerary. And... its not too far from Hannahoe's grave.

This is a very nice bar. Stop in!

 

THE CORNER HOUSE
1501 Lancaster Ave, Reading,  PA  19607   610-777-7444

 

 

 <5-2005>  The Corner House's owner was working on the night of my visit. I sat in front of the cooler shown in the photo above. It is well stocked with all sorts of British, German, Irish and Belgian beers.  The owner told me that he frequently changes  the selection so that the mix is always something new.

He has run the Corner House for 18 years and said that it was in his family before that.  Things were clean and neat and they had a good selection of available food.

The small beer was pretty pricey at $1.75 .  The small glass may not have even been 8oz and that is a lot of scratch for a Y-Lager. 

There is always something appealing to me about bars that have ancient decorations. It wouldn't take much imagination to  envision a guy sitting in the same stool looking past the same curtains as the TV televised a moon launch.

[3-2010 Reviewer: BEDS]  A group of us went to the Corner House on Saturday night and had a real swell time.  The college-student bartender was the daughter of the chef and did a a great job in recommending drinks and putting enough tables together so that all 8 of us could eat.  The waitress, another young lady, was very friendly and great with a big group that included hyped-up kids. Speaking of kids, they thoroughly enjoyed the vintage games in the game room including a pinball machine and a bowling game.

A good bottled beer selection complimented the 3 draft beers available. The bar and restaurant looked the way it did when I was a kid and a college student, which is a GOOD thing. Classic interior, clean and homey like a neighborhood bar and restaurant should be. Respectful crowd, mostly regulars.  The food itself was enjoyable, the crab cakes were very popular and the Ahi tuna excellent. Hamburgers were also popular. The chef sent out a big plate of French Fries because he "couldn't fit them all on our plates". What service! You wouldn't have that happen at Applebees!  They also has pizza on the menu which intrigued me, and I will definitely head back for a beer and a take out pie.

Hopefully this landmark won't change much, it hasn't in the past 30 years and it's well run and enjoyable.

 <2-2011> Sadly, the Corner House is for sale. Seems the couple that owns it has decided to part ways and neither of them intend to stick around. This is not good news and I hope a like-minded person steps up with the cash and the dedication to keep this pub open.

My reason for this visit was a short meeting and we decided to eat supper as well. My (draft) Spaten was cold and deliciously fresh. Still no new Reading Beer but I am sure I will soon encounter it somewhere.

The Buffalo chicken sandwich was good and quite spicy. The fries were also good but not as delicious or plentiful as BEDS described last year. Definitely good but not particularly great.

Several nice looking women were at the bar (all with their male significant others) and our waitress Nikki was a lean Irish lass who should have been wearing a kilt. :p

I would very much like to return to this tavern before it changes hands.

 

COTTON GINN BAR & GRILL
1570 Cotton Street   Reading   PA  19606

N40 19.693   W75  54.384     

  

<2-24-2004>  My 2nd visit to the Cotton Ginn wasn't quite as nice as my first. CORRUPTED and I walked in to find 4 or 5 middle-ages lesbians saddled up to the bar. Neither they nor the bartender bothered to say hello to us. The BT finally got around to getting our beers after fiddling with a mixed drink. The most exciting thing was watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and briefly wondering what two of the giggling women were going  to do as they both went to the bathroom together. No food was available so we shared a bag of Good's chips.

COUSIN'S PUB
1360 Pottsville Pike (Route 61), Shoemakersville,  PA  19555   610-562-5202

[3-17-2006 Reviewer: Mars]  St Patrick's Day 2006: Arrived around 8:00 to a mediocre sized crowd but was able to get a seat at the bar.  Not too much room in the bar area but enough to accommodate a decent sized crowd.  The bartenders were excellent with filling up just as we    were finishing up a beer.  $1.50 Bud Light drafts (not sure about anything else) during March Madness games.  The crowd began to increase in   number as the night  prolonged   and a bagpiper saluted us every so often in   between karaoke songs being sung.  All of the people in there     (patrons and employees) were extremely friendly  and easy to  talk to.  TVs are in all areas of the bar and dining area.  Easy to view all of them for a sports fan into March Madness. Apparently the bar is a big Steelers Bar during the football season. 
 

[Sunday, March 26, 2006 Reviewer: Mars]   Because of our last experience in there we decided to stop in for some food on the way to Reading from Hamburg.  Few people in there watching the NASCAR race but decent crowd for a Sunday at 6:00.  The food was good and the prices were great for the amount of food given. 

[6-2006] After Mars incredulously asked me why I had never been to Cousin's I made a specific effort to stop in. My inaugural   visit was on a Thursday night.  The place wasn't too busy - a few ballplayers at the bar as well as 2 or 3 pairs of women talking about womanly stuff (the pair at   the bar were  discussing hair care).  A male bartender soon tapped my Lager which was tasty but no where near as cold as the American House.

I was surprised at how nice the inside was and will definitely return. I imagine this bar gets pretty full and fun when there is  a theme or event.

[3-2010  Reviewer: Mars]   Got there about 7:00 on a Friday night.  Medium crowd at best.  Several open bar stools.  Some people eating.  Get our first beers rather quickly but then it was downhill from there.  Ask the bartender to change a TV to a hockey game.  Nothing.  Ask again after 20 minutes.  Nothing.  Ask a third time as politely as possible.  Again nothing.  At this same time, 5-10 minutes would go by before getting our refills.  In the meantime, the bartender is a star for people he knows on a first name basis.  It will be difficult going back in here any time real soon.  They need their old bartender (Brian) back in a big bad way

 

DOWNTOWN READING HOFBRAU
formerly "Jokers"

48 South 6th St   Reading,  PA  19602       610-372-3980
www.downtownreadinghofbrau.com

 

[3-2008 - REVIEWER: I.M. BIBER]    Saturday, March 15th, 2008 was the nicest day of the year so far here in Reading.  A day that was so enjoyable should only be capped off by an equally enjoyable night.  My band of merry Imbiber-ettes and I met up at the Guinness Brew Pub/Ugly Oyster Drafthaus (not my favorite place in the world, but for some reason I am always willing to give it another try).

With only 2 days left before St. Patrick’s Day, the bar was packed with some of the revelers arriving in a school bus, (affectionately known as “the drunk bus”, pretty cool!).  Needless to say the usually horrible service was particularly dire and another establishment needed to be found.  Some friendly patrons at the bar quickly recommended the Hofbrauhaus, only a block away.  

The Hofbrauhaus is the former location of John Mazzo’s Clothier, an excellent tailor and clothing store.  Mazzo’s closed in 2004 (but his sign is still on the side of the building facing the parking lot) and the building went to a brand new bar known as Jokers.  Jokers was, from all accounts, a pretty cool place to hang out, but it did not last long for whatever reason, and the “Hof” now occupies the location. 

Upon entering the Hofbrauhaus, we were warmly greeted by the bartender, Mike.  I was shocked.  Not only did we get a salutation, but there was no one, and I mean no one, in the bar.  This was quite a departure from the Oyster.  After finding a table, I asked Mike why it was so empty.  He explained that some Saturday nights are a “double” night.  Around 8, the original crowd heads to the Reading Royals hockey game, leaving the bar empty, only to return around 10 twice as large.  Makes sense.

Even thought the bar was quite dead, I can say that my party all had a great time.  The bar itself is decorated in a brew pub/sports bar theme, but the neat part is, all the sports memorabilia is Reading affiliated!  The room has a vaulted ceiling, a portion of which is glass, so the view goes directly up 4 stories and adds a unique lighting element during the day.  The bar itself is one of the most ornate I have ever seen.  It is dark wood with a giant plate glass mirror.  I asked Mike its’ story, and he knew it had one, but he couldn’t remember all the details off the top of his head.  That will be a story for next time.

Mike then took our order and I thought, “Reading bar, Reading Sports, Reading patrons, Reading Premium!”  No Reading premium.  The official reason given was “to make room for a special Victory, blah…blah…blah.”  Ridiculous!  This was the only drinking drawback to the evening, however, and I did enjoy a surprisingly crisp Lager.  One of the people in my party was celebrating a birthday and Mike actually brought over a round of shots for the table ON THE HOUSE!  I have been to many places in my time, but I have never been seen an entire table get free shots.  Amazing.  It almost made up for the lack of RPB. 

The one and only true drawback of this place is the food.  It is especially bad considering the menu proclaimed that the dishes were made “Cavannaugh Style”.  I’m not exactly sure what that means, but this food didn’t have any “style” at all.  Do not come here to eat.  My grilled chicken sandwich was, seemingly, made Thursday and reheated and that was the best meal my table got.  Have you ever eaten undercooked pierogies? 

Just as Mike said, at just before 10, everything picked up to a loud, fast pace.  Music from Mike’s iPod started blaring (they have a juke, but it was turned off for some reason).  They must anticipate this rush as the waitress only arrived at 9:30.   Mike, however busy he got, never forgot about our table, and was happy to serve us and add a few lines of pleasantries with every trip.  He is truly an awesome bartender.  This place would suffer without him. 

In sum, I would highly recommend a visit to “The Hof”, under certain conditions.  Eat first, and if you don’t like big crowds, make sure the Reading Phillies, Railers, Royals, and Express are out of town and there aren’t any big concerts that nights. This place has the feeling of being a fun neighborhood bar, full or not, and I will raise many a glass there in the future. 

Thanks to Tom for letting me contribute and for running this wonderful site.

DRYVILLE HOTEL
110 Lyons Rd   Mertztown,  PA   19539    610-682-2466

EAGLE HOTEL
301 North Main Street   Bernville, PA   610-488-6871

 

[2-2011] Sometimes a bar is so nice that you walk out with a big smile on your face.  For me, this is most often with an old-fashioned community tavern. My recent discovery of the Eagle Hotel made me wonder how I have never even heard of this place.

The friendliness of the staff was evident right from the get go.  Read my website for 5 minutes and you will see that this is a major pet peeve of mine. Far too many businesses have lost all sense of customer service. This old tavern retains much of the feel of an old building including some great photos of it a century ago. But, the parts of a bar that you want to be modern and clean (like the kitchen and bathrooms) seem to be modern and clean.

The food here is VERY good and a sign out front welcomes a new Cuban chef.   I will most certainly return for a full meal as I saw several entrees that looked incredible.  The apps I had were all good.

Someone told me the current owners have been here for two years and that their sincere investment in time and love is paying off.

Live bands and holiday promotions are probably a hoot here.  Not sure if they have a website. If they don't they should. This tavern is a gem and more people need to know about it.

 

EBERHART'S BAR & GRILL
Reading, PA

  

[2-24-2004] One of the best ways to find new bars is simply by keeping your eyes open as you drive. This is how we "found" Eberhart's. It's  good we did because this is another pub that is not listed in the phone book or on the internet. I have no idea why. The bartender was cleaning the  grill when we sat down and must have just finished doing the bathrooms because they smelled very clean from the strong smell of industrial cleaner. It's a good thing to find a bar that is cleaning. A crew of guys was working on the lights over the dance floor and the bartender said that they have a DJ on Saturdays and that a bunch of people dance.

EMILY'S PUB
RR1  Box 1636 (Route 10), Mohnton   PA  19540   610-856-7887

N40 14.049  904   W75  54.516

 

FALCO'S TAVERN
29 West Penn Street   Robesonia,  PA
  19551   610-693-5260

   

[5-2007]  Falco's looks like a neighborhood bar - small, unassuming and in the neighborhood.

I stopped in on a weekday afternoon to find the place completely empty. In a few minutes the barmaid emerged and greeted me warmly. My $2.00 Lager was very fresh and cold and delicious.  She was watching a romantic comedy so the fact that I only had time for one beer didn't sadden me over the loss of movie time.

As I walked out I passed a lady on the sidewalk who shot me the evil eye when I said hello. She got into the van in front of me which had the M.A.D.D. magnetic on the back.  I got the impression that she labeled any beer drinker as a drunkard.

 

  FLANAGAN'S PUB
41 West Lancaster Ave   Reading   PA   19607   610-777-6401

www.flanaganpub.com     

     

3: Barmaid Nikki (she is not the one described in the text who rated a screw)

 

[11-2004] There is nothing wrong with Flanagan's. It has decent staff, the customers are usually diverse and friendly and the food and beer are quite good.

The giveaways at halftime are usually numerous and of good quality.

The problem with Flanagan's in my eyes is that it is a missed opportunity.  There are few Irish pubs in the area. This tavern would make a good addition to  that short list. It has the name, a leprechaun and shamrocks as logos and a good location. The inside  has a few Irish flags flying and   green lights over the bar but there are never any Irish music or contests.

[4-2006] A dreary and wet Sunday morning turned into a sunny and warm Sunday afternoon so I took the bike for a ride.  I walked in and    past the barmaid who was talking to two guys. She was facing the door I came in and there was no way she didn't see or hear me.       My leather jacket and Harley shirt may be a bad thing in some bars but not here and she was wearing a HD t-shirt.  So, that was not a factor.

I sat down and waited about 2 minutes while she continued to chitchat with the two guys.  The door opened and three patrons  entered the same  way I did.   She immediately left the conversation and tapped their beers. She had to pass by me to get to the cash register for them.  Next she turned her back to me  and waited on "Steve" - filling his beer and then getting his wife her beer and a shot. Passing by me twice more.  At this point I stood up, put my jacket on   and gathered my money and left.  She wouldn't  have received a tip that's for sure and I hate nothing more    than when barmaids are so bad they overlook certain customers or pay attention only to their regulars.

[07-2006] Today's visit was more pleasant than the last one.  The barmaid was attractive and attentive - sporting white jeans  and shirt with a 'healthy' summer tan.  In spite of her low self esteem ("I don't wear shorts" or something to that effect)she was on top of things - empty mugs didn't sit long and she talked me into trying the clams.  Mmm, those  clams were small but perfect.

[6-2007] Mid week, early afternoon stop found a cold fresh Lager in my hand and two dozen clams and shrimp. The seafood  was tasty and Tiffany looked spiffy in skin tight jeans with her tanned cute calves and ankles showing.

#2: Back for more clams. Three dozen this time. Utterly delicious at $3.95/dz.

 

 

FOREST INN
904 Penn Street, Reading, PA  19603   

     

[12-2006] Coney Island Hamburgers & Hot Dogs is what the sign says.  Wikipedia says a Coney Island dog is a very specific food made with pork.  The doggies here are typical Berks hot dogs.  Oh well, the grease factor is high and the onions and chili are enough to rip up even a strong intestinal track.

 

GANLY'S PUB & DELI
500 Brownsville Rd  Sinking Spring,  PA. 19608  610-678-2000
18T 0412421  4468512

  

[3-15-04] Ganly's sits on top of a hill with the Blue Marsh Lake just over  the far side.  Boaters must frequent this establishment because boat magazines are in the lobby and signs in the parking lot.

Their newspaper ad for St Patrick's Day was  the most comprehensive of any in the Reading Eagle.  My recon on a Monday left me sitting like a schmuck at the bar with another guy while the barmaids scurried around.  If I had a heart attack and died at the bar  it would have been some time before she noticed.

What I did see and smell of the food looked good and they have several British and Irish beers.

[3-17-04 St Patrick's Day]   This was the first stop on a string of St Pattys stops. The line was dozens deep as people waited to be seated to eat.  The bar was packed.  A three man band played Irish jigs and were quite good. All of the food that kept  passing us looked excellent. Unfortunately,  it was just too full and the only place we had to stand was the route to the bathrooms.

 

GRESHVILLE INN
1013 South Reading Ave    Boyertown, PA 19512   610-367-6994

www.greshvilleinn.com

HUIE'S GREY FOX INN
2142 South Galen Hall Rd   Reinholds, PA 17569   717-484-2625

IRON POST INN
4701 Kutztown Rd  Temple PA 19560

 

[11-2008]  My first ever stop at this tavern came on a sunny Sunday afternoon.   $1 Bud drafts were tapped by Tiffany.  Her 80s hair kind of took me by surprise at first.  Everyone else in the bar was a regular and they enthusiastically greeted each other as they came and went.  I ordered chicken FINGERS and got chicken WINGS.  No big deal although I was definitely jonesing for fingers.  Tiffany has one of the best butts in Berks and thankfully she put it in skin-tight jeans and not some stretchy pants contraption.

One sign proclaimed: "No Firearms, No Drugs, No Weapons - or you will be banned for life" and the next declared that no cameras were allowed. Including camera phones. They WILL be confiscated.  Fri and Sat nights feature live music.  This is a nice, small neighborhood bar.

JACK'S PUB
"The Oldest Family-Operated Bar In Berks County"
1500 N 10th Street    Reading    PA  
www.myspace.com/jackspubreading

   

[3-2007] The readingbeer.com  website announced a $1 pint Reading Beer special on Wednesday at Jack's Pub. I sat down, scratched my head asked myself where in the heck was Jack's Pub.  I credit myself with at least a passing knowledge of the location of most of the Pagoda City's pubs but this one stumped me.

After a successful first tasting of Reading Beer ( good taste from the mug, no nasty side effects later ) I emailed some friends and we gathered at Jack's.  This crew came from several different corners of this area: Morgantown, Ephrata, York and miscellaneous Berks County locales.

I snapped the second photo seen above and as soon as we walked in one of the patrons asked "How did the picture turn out?".  Looking at the heavily curtained windows I wondered how he knew - until I saw the crystal clear color TV security monitor.

Happy hour is 7-9P so we began drinking our Reading's. The barmaid came over and chatted about life and told us that this was the last real biker bar left in the city of Reading.

Jack's is a good bar.  A safe haven in the middle of a city that sometimes seems like it has gone mad. The antique bar is beautiful and its a good thing that Kyle seems to be a competent air to the family throne.  Taverns are no different than many other types of businesses - often sucked up by entities that own many bars and have little regard for the people they serve. Being just a few blocks from Albright, this pub also serves as a college hangout.

The Reading Beer guys showed up and all their beer drinkers got a good quality imprinted pint glass. With each Reading you bought you received a ticket for the raffles.

Lew Bryson describes Iron City Beer by saying, "Iron City must win or lose in Pittsburgh" because it's reputation suffers outside its home city. He describes IC has "no worse than most and better than some".  This is how I look at Reading Beer. 

We are a city that has our "own" beer.  I don't see a Lancaster, Harrisburg or York beer. I hope Reading Beer survives and it will take people to put down their national (and in many cases, foreign owned) beers long enough to just TRY Reading. It was nice to see many people in Jack's doing just that.

Personally, if a bar is serving Reading, I am drinking Reading.

[2-2008] This hobby is supposed to be fun.  Riding my Harley is supposed to be fun.  Once in awhile people mistake my short military hair for short law enforcement hair.  This is why I often ride my scooters alone and why occasionally I drink alone.

For an early February day the 50deg+ temperatures weren't too bad but the dreary skies inspired me to head north to Reading to drink a few beers.  I have never been to the Pike Cafe until   today and after that I let my GPS direct me to Jack's.

Its been almost one year since I was last here but the drama inside was the same.  Essentially the situation is this - somebody is acting stupidly and barmaid   Faith is implementing order and control.  Something she seems quite adept at.

After everything calmed down I got to listen to Lou tell some pretty decent jokes - none of which I can remember at the moment.  I enjoyed a few $2.50 Reading beers, got a new copy of the Loose Ends  magazine and took in the many things to see including the old grate in front of the pissers - collecting pennies for good luck.

Another interesting couple I met were Jason and Kathy. Jason was off work today due to the weather and Kathy should have been modeling somewhere - what a good looking girl. And she has some kahunas too as she jumped into between the aforementioned arguers.

It seems that someone stated that I was a cop.  Not that I saw anything illegal going on but this probably isn't known as a hangout for off duty cops.  I sure         do get the shits of this.  I have short hair. I sometimes carry a lawfully owned and authorized Glock.  I have relatives who are cops. But that is as close to       being a cop as I get.

Writing about bars is usually fun.  I like meeting interesting people like the customers and staff at Jack's.  But I also know when it is time to go.  So, I grabbed a cold, leftover Superbowl hot dog and said goodbye. 

I have to give Lou credit for having the balls to flat out ask me something rather than mumbling over a beer like it seems a few others were doing.  Being asked to list my shirt and prove that I am not armed is just a little bit much.   There are plenty of bars in Reading that provide atmosphere with less friction.  I am  just a guy who likes to drink beer, explore bars and talk to people.  Friction is bad.

 

     

3: Standing at the urinal means you are facing this old iron grate over the window. People seem to drop pennies in for good luck

 

 

JAKE'S PLACE  
RR 3  Hamburg, PA 19526   610-562-7827

 

[11-2006]> I have literally driven by Jake's Place for decades without ever once stopping in.   I have no reason other than I always wanted to make sure I had enough time to enjoy it and I always told myself that I would stop "next time".

But that "next time" ended up being a quarter of a lifetime away.

My visit today immediately found me liking this place.  The stone parking lot, the front porch, ancient wooden door, tired old Coke sign.

The bartender got me a Reading bottle and took two one dollar bills.  While watching college football I smelled shrimp and watched the couple to my left as they sucked down a half-pound each.  It is hard for me to resist good shrimp so I ordered a $7 1/2# and soon was hungrily peeling them myself.  They were large and delicious with just enough Old Bay to not cause rampant hypertension.

The food must be good here because many people were coming in to eat their supper.

I noted numerous attractive middle-aged women who arrived with their husbands.  Some of these women were quite good looking and most were significantly better than their peers.

 

 

JOHNNY & HON'S
2546 Kutztown Rd,  Reading, PA 19605   610-921-2700

 

[11-2006] A quick Thanksgiving eve visit found the place packed and the wiener maker guy unable to keep up with the demand. Everyone   seemed to be having a good time. Someone ordered the $1 bag of popcorn but it smelled like it had been incinerated.

[11-2008]  Today's Sunday afternoon stop found about 50 people intently playing poker.  The UN should come check out this example of harmony as there were card players of just about every age, sex and shape.  Reading Beer is no longer served here - another example of what could have been.  I settled for an Old Mill and a dog.  The Old Mil is what it is but the dog was as good as always - loaded with onion and chili.  This bar is now smoke-free but it seems they are applying for an exception from the state of PA.

K'TOWN PUB & GRILL
257 West Main Street   Kutztown, PA  19530

 

 KEMPTON HOTEL
9910 Kistler Valley Rd, Kempton, PA  19529    610-756-3153

 

[2-2006] The Kempton Hotel stands in the shadow of 'Hawk Mountain' and was built in 1874. It is legendary in  Northern Berks County and  usually   serves an interesting mix of tourists and locals.  The proprietor, Archie, has owned the place for ages.     Thankfully he has mellowed greatly after surviving some health issues.

The Wanamaker, Kempton & Southern Railroad  is just around the corner and offers excursion trains pulled by both steam and diesel engines.  The Kempton Hotel still rents room which share a communal bathroom.

Most of the food here is tasty and the soup and salad bar is a bargain.  Although the food is worth waiting for do not expect  terrific service in the dining room.  It just doesn't happen that often.

The ceiling in the bar is a giant mural of images from Kempton and beyond. Willie Nelson is prominently displayed - a tribute to the time when he stopped in  for a beer after playing at the Kempton Fair.

<7-2006> Bottom of the 9th in the 2006 All Star game. Only one run separated the two teams. In an overtly unAmerican act a guy gets up from the bar and starts feeding the jukebox.  When we said something to him his reply was "You have two eyes don't you?". The barmaid said the only time that the jukebox is turned off is during NASCAR. In my opinion, the barmaid should have  had the jukebox off during a significant sports      event on TV.

Clams aren't cheap in Kempton but my $6.50/dozen ones were incredibly tasty. Some of the best I have had this season.

 

KUTZTOWN TAVERN
272 North Main Street   Kutztown   PA   19530   610-683-9604

www.kutztowntavern.com     

     

[5-2006]  Its been a long time since I have been at the bar in the K-town. People who didn't know this place before would hardly recognize it  now.  It is beautiful inside and it's always good to sip a beer next to the vats where it was brewed   (although several people commented that, unlike other brewpubs, you never smell the brewing).

I guess in a technical sense the "GABCO" - Golden Avalanche Brewing Company is a separate business entity. My  "YoungAllen's Lager" was very good. One of the best craft beers I have ever had.

My salad was good although it took forever to get to us. The food that I saw go by looked good. The staff were friendly enough  but I thought they would have been more lively - they are working in a BREWERY. Shouldn't that be enough to keep a smile on my anyone's face?

Besides the K-Town and GABCO this four-tiered business also includes Shorty's Bar and the Tavern Takeout. Shorty's is a legend in Kutztown and KU and will be reviewed separately.

 

LITTLE BROWN JUG 
900 Lancaster Ave,  Reading  PA

 

[9-2007]  I finally got to stop in after a decade of driving by. No bullets were fired into the bar while I was there.  I expected a skuzzy dive but found a pretty cool little dive. 

The things that most appealed to me: big glass windows, doors standing open to the Lancaster Ave and side street sides, a neat little patio, some nice beer decorations and an interesting clientele.

I ordered, you guessed it, a Reading but was met with a blank stare.  The barmaid was standing under a large Reading beer barrel end sign when she said no.  With only two beers on tap I took my Lager in a bottle.

The guy and girl to my left were talking about Paris and one of them commented that their seasons are reversed "over there" so that they are just coming into Spring.  I tried my best not to let any beer spew forth from my nose.

 

LITTLE OLEY TAVERN
2068 Farmington Ave   Boyertown  PA   19512    610-367-2353

40 18.343   075 39.118 

 

           

5: An article from the August 2006 Maxim explaining why bars put ice in their urinals

 

[5-2005]  The Little Oley Tavern isn't in Oley. Maybe Little Oley is the village that it is located in. I do not know.

It is listed on the Reading MC page as a biker friendly establishment.

My visit found a full bar at 4PM.  I was taken there by Renee - who I had met a few hours earlier.  A sign said $1 drafts and she buttered me up by buying me a beer and a shot of Jameson.  My bite of one of the 20c wings caused a taste sensation in my mouth.

I didn't get to stay too long but I know that the men's room kicks butt.  You get to piss in a trough (becoming about as rare as $1 drafts even  though it makes perfect sense) and the trough was filled with ice!!!  I do not know what the ice is for but its wild to  see. The stall has a door that looks like it was stolen from a European castle. If the commies ever nuke this area, the guy sitting on that pot will no doubt live to fight another day!

I am looking forward to returning on a Monday to drink a cold draft and a plate of wings.

       

1: Renee and her new jeep    2: The Big Game Hunter   3:   In memory of a guy who died from cancer    4: Bathroom graffiti - rebel flag with "Fly It High"    

[6-2006] Wow, its been one YEAR since I was here. Where does the time go?

I met Renee here for a late lunch - a DELICIOUS roast beef sandwich - carved off the large chunk of beef and worth every penny of the $4.50 price tag. My mouth is watering right now just thinking of it. It was so good that I ate it before even taking a photo.

The beers remain $1 for a draft (cold and tasty) and the piss trough remains filled with ice.

My dozen clams (Wednesday special) were excellent - large without being overly chewy.

 

THE LOOKOUT BAR & GRILL
formerly Quell's Millmont Hotel

501 Upland Ave   Reading (Millmont)   PA   19611
www.lookoutbargrill.com

       

1: The building is becoming blue - you can see the roost for a long way away

[9-2007]  After recently painting windows in my home I had great empathy when I walked by the outside of the bar. The masking tape they used for the outside windows had apparently become part of the glass.  It was obvious that some poor slob had been pathetically picking away at it without much success.

My mid-week, midday visit found a bunch of people at the bar and beers being tapped by the blonde and cute Jennifer.  My request for a Reading was met with a sad shaking of her head.  I understand not having it on draft but there is no reason not to throw a case or two in the cooler.

I started with a Y-Lager but wanted to avoid the general malaise that afternoon Lagers have been inflicting on me - so, I tried a Widmer Hefeweizen . Pretty good although I kept wondering how I could be drinking a Portland, Oregon draft in Reading but not a Reading in Reading.

Anyway, Jennifer told me about some of the upcoming things they will be trying including their first DJ night that Thursday.  With Alvernia right around the corner they have a decent market towards the 21+ college kids.

I finished my beer, grabbed a Loose Ends magazine and headed out - sure to return again soon.

[11-2007]  My mid Saturday visit found Reading Beer on tap for $2.25.  You get a fresh, new cold mug with your beers at the Lookout.

This place has a good 'feel' and they have some amazing 1/2 off entree specials early every evening. Come at the right time and you can get two crab cakes for $6. Thats a deal!

[12-2007]  Try finding a bars in Reading with decent prices and a separate room to host a party. It is harder than it seems.  The Lookout has a 'backroom' area (actually its parallel to the main barroom but separated by the backbar wall) which works well for this purpose. 

The food here is quite good and it is all reasonably priced.  I also like knowing that my money is going to support a family-owned bar where at least one of the two co-owners' agendas is only that of fulfilling the dream of owning a bar.

Another unique factor is that they make their own potato chips here.

 

1: Now THAT is a steak sandwich - a real slab of steak on a roll     2: Mary and the Festivus pole

 

 McARDLE's PUB 
Route 662 between Rts 222 and 61  Sinking Spring PA

[3-2010  Reviewer - MARS I see this bar has never been reviewed.  It is on Route 662 between Route 222 and 61, closer to 222.  Small place with a 10-12 foot bar, several tables and a few TVs.  Seemed like the typical neighborhood pub where many people knew each other.  Everyone was VERY friendly and welcoming.  The bartenders were very attentive and friendly as well.  Food was good. We had some fries which were good along with some wings which were small but had very tasty sauce. 

 

MIKE'S TAVERN
135 Exeter Street,  Reading, PA  19601   610-374-3857

 

[7-2010  Reviewer - DC

Several times while searching for parking near Reading's First Energy Stadium, I've driven past Mike's Tavern on Exeter Street.  As of June 2010, this is NOT a place to drive past.  Earlier this year, Pete (founder and long-time owner of Reading's North East Taproom) returned to Reading.  Pete is known for his straight-forward approach -- he likes good beer and serves good beer.  There's no frills, there's no dancing girls on the bar, there's no bar bands, there's just beer, Pete, and his dog. 

Here's the deal:  Pete sold The NE taproom about 7 years ago and moved to middle America to become the hoagie king.  That worked out alright, but like a true Readingite, he itched to be back underneath the warm red glow of the Pagoda.  Earlier this year, he saw the opportunity to buy an old friends' bar, and moved back to the thriving metropolis of Reading, as the new operator of "Mike's Tavern".    Since March, he's cleaned the place out, installed new taps, started working on the (dormant) kitchen, and started pouring some of the finest beers. 

Decor:  To sum it up:  "Eclectic."  From the Reading Beer lamps over the back of the bar to the picture of Sally Star on the side wall, to the rocking chair reserved for Pete's terrier, this place is as comfortable as an old pair of flip flops. 

The Music:  An assortment on the jukebox with lots of oldies but goodies. 

The Beers:  Always something new and interesting on tap -- and its always changing.  In the cooler, he's got everything from Bud Light to Sierra Nevada -- something for every palate.  Last night I stuck with the tap -- I had two pints of a nice belgian red, and then finished with a Lagunitas IPA. 

The Food:  Yeah... not so much.  While there's always good broken pretzels in bowls on the bar, the kitchen is currently in a state of flux.  When we came in last night, he offered us a slice of pizza that he had ordered-in earlier in the evening.  (I'm not making that up -- he really did!).  I'm sure in a couple months, things will be up and running in the kitchen, just be patient!

Seriously.  Run (do not walk) to Mike's Tavern and start slapping your pictures of dead presidents on the bar.  This is the type of old-time tavern with old-time service and great beer that this town needs. 

[12-2007]  The legendary (infamous?) Pete is now at the helm of this HISTORICALLY old-fashioned bar and he was behind the bar when I arrived. Seriously folks, this bar is unchanged from how it was decades ago. I love the many Reading Brewery items on the walls (the original RB not the failed modern incarnation). Classify Pete as a hipster or classify him as a spacecase - either way he knows beer and knows how to manage a strange mix of things and people.

Surprisingly, there were several good looking lasses milling about (and one canine) and they even danced to a few songs on the jukebox.

Why Mike's wasn't full prior to the R-Phils game is beyond me. Everyone should have a cold one at this bar at least once.

 

 

NAOMI HOTEL  
1405 Old River Rd, Birdsboro (Seyfert), PA  19508

     

3: Some very neat old paintings adorn the walls  5: "Everybody's Uncle" Lou

[12-2007]  The Naomi Hotel is always being mentioned in the Loose Ends magazine and I have always loved the look of the building. But until now, it has always been closed when I stopped by.

That finally changed as I finally confirmed what a gem this bar is. 

Definitely a place for locals but friendly to newbies nonetheless - this tavern is EXACTLY why I started this website.  You won't find the owner being a mysterious unseen entity who owns a slew of bars - you will find her behind the bar serving customers.

You get the impression that if someone got drunk and stupid the barkeep wouldn't have to call the cops - the loyal customers    would just rise up and take care of things.

There are all sorts of interesting old pictures and paintings on the walls. There is a piano. There is a large framed photo of the Pope.  The bathroom is old but clean had a full, working pump container of soap. That impressed me!

Some of the neatest things I found were photos of Lou's brother playing music with Elvis.  I definitely want to hear more about this history.

A great bar to which I am awarding the royal crown symbol of excellence.

 

   

1: Reading bottles waiting for you to drink them  2: Lou's brother who used to play music with Elvis

 

NICK'S CAFE
1050 Chestnut Street, Reading, PA  19602 
  610-373-7191

    

[12-2008] The entry for Nick's Cafe has probably been on here for 7 or 8 years.  I finally got here on a cold Saturday afternoon.  This is a good bar - a true old-fashioned Reading neighborhood taproom.   I love hitting bars as Christmas approaches - seeing the decorations and people in a slightly better mood than usual.

Nick's has a grand old cash register and ancient wooden front door.

$2 Reading bottles and $3 Beck's.  I need to return sometime soon to look around in more detail.

 NORTHEAST TAPROOM
1101 North 12th Street   Reading    PA   19604   610-372-5284

N40 21.105   W076 54.813  

  

 

[2001]  The ball was hit out of the park this night when I got to go to both the Alpenhof and the Northeast Taproom! Located  in a residential  area where parking spots are hard to come by - this bar looks like the epitome of the neighborhood pub. On a  corner, no gaudy lights in the   windows, curved concrete steps. Walking through the narrow door was liking getting slapped in the face and immediately it was apparent that this bar was far from normal. The dictionary defines "eclectic" as:

"e·clec·tic"

( -kl k t k)adj Selecting or employing individual elements from a variety of sources, systems, or styles: an eclectic taste in music; an eclectic   approach to managing the economy.

To say that this place is eclectic is the understatement of the year. The walls are decorated with oddities, artwork and trinkets. The beer cooler has beers from all over the USA. Because this bar only serves beer - no Liquor bottles sit behind the bar but there are plenty of novelty items like exploding cigarette ads, candy and x-ray glasses. A hand washing sink sits on the outside of the men's room <marked simply MAN> Going in   explains its placement - the commode is all that will fit in this room. The walls are completely covered in graffiti, decals and even bottle caps and golf balls embedded in the mortar.

The owner, "Pete", looks like he would drive a VW bus and play in a band. $2 bottles of Lager were a nice surprise and the decent-sized chunk of homemade sub ($3) was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. The excellent hot peppers made it even  better. I had not even gotten to my second bite when I was joined one of the two dogs that call this place home.  "Wiggles"  jumped right up on the stool next to me and laid his head    on my arm . He wasn't begging but obviously wanted some sub! We shared the great bread but not the peppers. His little companion came over and stood by my feet. He also got bread.    The ladies room is up a step into the backroom. This room is filled with couches, padded chairs and a ton of games. One of the tabletops even has  "rock'em, sock'em robots"!!! Copies of the Village Voice are available for reading and it seemed like it would  be a-ok to just sit down, prop your feet up and take a nap   with the dogs!

This bar is open only from 3PM to Midnite. In an era when people sit in bars less and less and competition for drinkers' dollars  often results in themes or special hooks - this bar is naturally interesting. The entire bar seems to be an honest reflection of its owner's tastes. There is no way that words can adequately describe the atmosphere or design of this establishment.

[2-24-2004]  Surprisingly, Reading doesn't seem to be a city that celebrates Fat Tuesday. Harrisburg, Philly and many other  towns go all out but Reading was quite dead. CORRUPTED and I ended our 3 hour tour by stopping at the Taproom. The inside of   the bar looks pretty much exactly the same as it did  the last time I was here. The new owner greeted us as nicely as the previous   one did. He even had the same great tasting subs which were ready in about 30 seconds. Not bad for 1030PM. We ate the food and drank the Yuenglings in the back room. C. said he kept looking  back to check on us but its more likely that he was gazing at her Fat Tuesday tube top. Before we left I took a wizz in the closet sized bathroom    and diligently washed my hands in the sole sink that serves both the men's and women's restrooms.

       

 

[1-2008] There are several "I can't believe its been so long since I was here" logs throughout these pages.  But, I cant believe that its been nearly FOUR YEARS since I was here. Holy Moly.

Today was an abnormally warm day that found the doors of the Taproom standing open.   It's not too often you see that in January in Pennsylvania!

One of the co-owners, Dennis, was stocking beer and tending bar.  He and his cohort, both former employees of the Pike Cafe, run the business very much like it has always been - a zillion kinds of beer and subs made when someone asks.

No Reading beer sold here.  To learn my thoughts on this read any of the other dozen or more entries on how I believe that Reading, PA bars should serve Reading beer.

PBR is the best selling beer here "by far".

There are few bars with more to look at than here. 

 

OLD VILLAGE INN
Route 23 & Mill St  Morgantown   PA   19543

 

 

[7-2007] All of my Morgantown beer drinking experience has been at the hotel before its closure.  Why I have never visited the Old Village Inn before this is a good question.  I guess the   parking always seemed better across the street.

This Friday night stop was to meet two friends for a drink.  The outside deck area was filled with pleasant looking people watching the cars zip by.

Inside the Phillies were battling to win their ballgame and the bar was full of an eclectic mix of patrons.  The waitresses were dressed in black and were all attractive.

My friend pointed out the owner who was sitting at the end of the bar.  I was told that she has owned it since the 60's.

My $2.50 Lagers were cold and fresh and the $5.95 1/2 pound of shrimp was even better (with cocktail sauce and butter on the side).

The Old Village Inn has a feel that is just that - old and a central feature of the community. I like this place and will return soon.

 

OLLIE'S TAVERN
502 Main Street   Shoemakersville  PA   19555

       

 

[10-2007] Shoemakersville (yes, I know the locals will say "we never call it that, just 'Shoey'") is actually a town!  I guess I should have known that but I always just think of it as the section of 61 that I sail through.

So I'll take the hit for not knowing of a cool little bar just a mile or so off 61.

Ollie's Halloween party was underway when I arrived to meet a friend and the friend's posse.  The theme for this group was pimps and ho's .

There were a bunch of ho's and a section of pimps including one pimpette.  Other revelers that I spotted included a naughty baker, naughty nurse and a naughty Santa's helper.

This is a neat place and their Reading bottles were only $2 (good price made even better by keeping the day to day price during a special occasion). They even sold coupons for 3 tooters/$1.

Everyone was friendly and I ran into an old friend.  I will return on a normal day and check this tavern out again. I suspect I will like it just as much.

PAPPY T's PUB & LOUNGE
50 Industrial Drive   Hamburg, PA  19526      610-562-5645

PEANUT BAR
332 Penn Street   Reading   PA   19602   610-376-8500

www.peanutbar.com

 

1: This portrait of Thomas Hannahoe hangs over the bar - but only during St Patrick's Day

[12-24-2003] The Peanut Bar is a legend in Reading.  Since 1935, people have been able to eat peanuts and wing the shells  onto the floor.  During Prohibition it was a speakeasy - said to be the only one in the city to still exist today as a pub.

Every year on St Patrick's Day the portrait of Tom Hannahoe is hung behind the bar in a place of honor.

[3-2006]  Battled the pre-Kid Rock crowds to attend a meeting in the dining room.  Several of the guys in attendance said the service and food had gone downhill since the old days.  I ordered   a broiled crab cake which came with a salad and baked potato. The meal came before the salad and the waiter asked if I still wanted the salad (which I was going to have to pay for either way).   I asked for a roll with the crab cake and eventually the salad and the roll arrived. The crab cake was very good and contained a lot of lump crab meat.

[3-17-2010 St Patrick's Day]   Tipster reports that the Peanut Bar, a tavern who often promotes itself as being part of the very fabric of our society, did not have the Tom Hannahoe painting on display.  I wonder why? 

PARADISE BY THE SLICE
63 East Penn Ave, Wernersville  PA  19565

[2-2011]  In spite of the beer banners out front ( and the current sign promoting Mad Elf ) this business comes across as primarily a pizza joint. Thankfully, it is much more than that.

I can't think of a better theme on a cold winter's day than one of Key West, beaches and sunny places. Paradise By The Slice oozes with the feel of a laid back day at the beach bar with Jimmy. It's hard to be unhappy when surrounded by beachy things.

Yes, you can bring your family here and enjoy pizza and food but you can also sit at the well stocked bar and take your time at selecting a drink from their diverse beer menu. The staff were all friendly and the beers served in heavy glass pitchers. The way it should be.

I intend to return very soon to explore their nightly specials. Watch for additional information soon but in the meantime stop by and check it out for yourself.

 

PENN WERNER HOTEL
5 East Penn Street, Wernersville, PA  19565

    

 

[2-2004] The Penn-Werner has no signs out front identifying it as a business. We saw the ad for it while sitting in Knuckleheadz. This is another example of a building that was probably the center of the community for many years. There is a bronze plaque on the front of the building that has could no doubt tell a 1000 tales if it could talk. But 2004 finds the P-W no longer serving weary travelers but housing permanent guests in its apartments. At least the bar is still open.

Inside the bar we observed a biker who was happily dancing to a very loud jukebox with its collection of classic rock. The bartender was finishing his shift and his replacement explained how she got to Wernersville from the former Soviet country that she was born in ( I cant for the life of me remember what that  was ).

[3-2007] On St Patrick's Day weekend  I was in Allentown and stopped into a pub that occupies the front of a grand old hotel. It made me think of the Penn-Werner. Lo and behold, a few days later I get an email from David (who with his wife has owned the property since December of 2005). He said they have been actively making improvements ever since.  The dining room has reopened and they now serve meals Wednesday through Sunday.  The new setup is family-friendly which in my mind means food good enough to keep the kids munching away and yet I can     still get a beer with my meal.

Anyone who has the American spirit to buy and renovate a historic old building like this one deserves to have his business patronized.  Sometime soon I intend to ride up and see what they are   up to!

[7-2007] Taking Owner David's advice to return to the Penn-Werner I pointed my Harley in the direction of Wernersville.  The inside of the barroom hasn't changed much.  We were greeted    by a jovial bartender who was wearing rings on almost all of his fingers.  He tapped my $2 Lager and was later seen serving a glass of chocolate milk to one of the women seated at the bar. That isn't something you see everyday.

 

PIKE CAFE
930 Pike Street  Reading, PA   19604   610-373-6616

www.pikecafe.com

   

 

[2-2008] A few days ago a friend of mine told me that she hit the Pike Cafe over the weekend and had a bang-up time.

My dreary day tour took me to the Pike and my first thought was "Parking is A-OK here".  Wow - a COVERED lot and a huge open lot.  Brilliant.  I am giving the Pike a beermug icon because of this amazing parking setup.

The inside of this place is pretty nice. Red ceiling. Wireless.  $2.50 Readings which goto $1.50 each or $6 pitchers on Thursday nights (which is also AYCE ribs or steamed shrimp!).

A business like this can only be fairly evaluated when it is up and running - bands jamming, people eating, dancing.  I will return.

 

     

 

 PORT CLINTON HOTEL
231 Center Street (Route 61)   Port Clinton   PA   19549   610-562-3354  or 888-562-2626

www.portclintonhotel.com

       

[9-2006]  It's been ages since I ate at the Port Clinton Hotel.  The last few years have been a time of increased advertising for this old standard. The addition of media advertisements and a website has surely increased business.

Today's Labor Day weekend visit found the restaurant quite full - mostly with those who had arrived on Harleys or were wearing Harley shirts ( me included but just by dumb luck ).

The waitress seemed unable to 'think outside the box' and didn't suggest moving the two person table to the end of our 5 person table. She would have been quite happy to let 2 people in our party sit in a totally different section of the dining room. That started the visit off wrong.

Then, our food took almost an hour to arrive with the appetizers taking almost as long. The nachos and cheese were the worst I have had in any bar ever. Cold and the cheese was like a  watery pus fluid.  The seafood dishes were good even if the crab cake was barely warm.  French fry servings were the advertised insane amount - piled so high they looked like a small tasty mountain - and not as greasy as they looked. 

The cheesesteak was also a monster and deemed delicious by all who sampled  it.

 

RAILROAD HOUSE SPORTS BAR
152 Woodrow Ave   Sinking Spring, PA 19608

40 19.343   76 01.591

 

       

[1-2008 Reviewer: KDOT]   After visiting the Railroad House numerous times as a final stop on a way home from my night out (including the previous night), I felt it was time to give    dinner a try.  Arrived around 5PM on a Saturday Afternoon, with an NFL playoff game just underway. My wife and I walked in the front door and were immediately greeted by a hello from the bartender.  Just about every seat at the bar was filled with football loving patrons.

After visiting the Railroad House numerous times as a final stop on a way home from my night out (including the previous night), I felt it was time to give dinner a try.  Arrived around 5PM on a Saturday Afternoon, with an NFL playoff game just underway. My wife and I walked in the front door and were immediately greeted by a hello from the bartender.  Just about every seat at        the bar was filled with football loving patrons.

The main (front) room of the bar has a large three (almost four sided bar). There are 9 plasma TV's including 7 above the bar on all sides, two in corners and huge DLP HD projector on a big screen, so any seat guarantees you a good vantage point. Although I did not venture into it, there is a back room with a second bar. A porch is off the side of the back room and at first glance,      it appears that it probably opens up into an open air room for summer/outdoor dining, or at the very least a porch to eat on. As it opened in the fall, we'll have to wait for spring to find out.     More TVs and a dart board in the back as well.  Decor was extremely nice, chairs are very comfy, just a true gem for a recently opened bar!

We took seats at a high top table with a great view of the plasmas. I had a Reading Premium draft, which was ice cold and perfect!  Probably the coldest Reading Premium I have had since it    was reintroduced and reasonably priced at $2.25 (with $1.50 specials on Wednesday's of Reading Premium). Also, with an NFL game on, it was $4.99 dozen wings and $4.99 dozen shrimp.     They also have $4.00 Train Wreck Tea's (Long Island Ice Tea) all the time.   

I opted to start with an order of wings (can be split 6 and 6) of hot and also ranch. My wife opted for an order of Onion Rings.  Wings were great. No creative sauce tricks, as it was straight        up hot sauce and straight up Ranch, but they were big and meaty and tasty!  Onion Rings came in a nice healthy portion, the thick cut variety!  The table next to us order a dozen shrimp,           and they looked great! Large shrimp, healthy portion and nothing but rave reviews from that table. 

For main dinner, I opted for the All-American Burger and my wife had Chicken Fingers. Again, great choices. Burgers come with chips but can substitute fries for a small charge, which I did, and got a huge portion of fries to go along with an excellent, well-cooked burger. Chicken Fingers are as to be expected, as they can be tough to screw up!  After 4 Reading Premiums, and an entire NFL game later, it was time to hit the road. As it approached 8 and the next game approached, the bar was packing them in with fans, as all the tables in the front and filled up and the back  looked to be full as well...

Although I had been there at the tail end of a quite a few evenings, this was my first opportunity to really enjoy the Railroad House, and the comment that I made to my wife as we left was that she may have to start scheduling our home cooked meals about an hour later during the week, so I can make a few stop offs for Happy Hour!! For a bar that has used no advertising that I have seen other than word of mouth, it appears that we have a winner! Great friendly staff, friendly atmosphere and excellent food! Can't go wrong! 

[1-2008]  Having errands to run is always a good excuse to get out and accidentally  come across a new bar.  Today's "To Do" list included 7 tasks with #1 being a stop here.  I guess that is not too accidental.    And... my arrival just happened to be at lunchtime.

The bar was occupied by 7 or 8 people - all male - including a pale, scrawny fellow with a big mustache who kept staring at me. To be honest, my first impression was that this very well might be a gay bar. I don't mind gay bars but I don't like when anyone stares at me when I am trying to enjoy my beer. I bumped my barstool to the right to be out of his eyeballrays.

The male bartender was friendly and one of the customers said hello.  The flatscreens had a variety of sports with  the majority showing the Gonzaga basketball game.

I ordered a Reading beer and a chicken Philly and asked the barkeep what was in the back.  He cheerfully replied,  "A kickass deck - go back and check    it out".  So I walked back and found the sweet looking setup you see in the photo to the left.  The entire ceiling is lines of bamboo and the windows come out for open air drinking during PA's   nicer months.

Returning to the bar I asked him if it is used over the winter and his answer was "ohh yeah - come back after 6 tonight and that place will be MOBBED!".  His enthusiasm and the decor made me want to check it out and I pledge to do that sometime soon.

Before my food arrived I needed to take a wizz. The lav was bright and clean and sporting a very ADA-compliant urinal.  The smallest dwarf in the world could easily piss into this porcelain low rider. That's a heck of a mental image.

My $6 sandwich came with a pickle and chips and chicken that was real chunks - not formed and pressed minute steaks. Delicious.  As I was eating a train barreled by - something that is always nice when you are in a tavern with a railroad name.

The owner arrived and was busy with inventorying something.  I would love to hear his story and learn what inspired him to save this ancient hotel.  The bartender said he spent 100s of 1000s of dollars on reopening this in the Fall of 2007 after it had spent 18 yrs not being a tavern. Bless someone who actually REVIVES a bar instead of DESTROYING one.

My first impression of the Railroad House was a good one.  I forgot to get the bartenders name but he did a solid job.  All that this place needed were a few females but I suspect that changes at night.

[7-2008]  I know I have written about the RR House since January but its not here.  Where did it go? No idea.  Yesterday I was looking at something on the net when I read a series of yellowpages.com reviews about alleged discrimination by the staff of this business against a former Marine (sorry, I dont buy the "once a Marine, always a Marine" thing).  The whole boohoo'ing by this guy seemed quite suspect to me as I honestly have never been in a tavern that would have a problem with someone because they were a vet.

So, I drive over to the RRH to find out for myself.  Owner April is there and I ask her what the scoop is on this now months old issue that has faded away.  It absolutely had nothing to do with the complainer being a vet and everything to do with his wearing "colors" (if this is a term that is unfamiliar to you then read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_club ).  Most bars do not allow colors simply because of potential complications between rival clubs and the uneasiness that they may cause to other patrons.  This is a business policy that is nearly universal.

There are more details to this issue but they dont matter as the bar wasnt being discriminatory and this site isn't about the politics of patch holders in pubs.

So back to the eating and drinking.   Wednesdays are $1.50 Reading Beer nights.  That works for me as I would be drinking a Rdg anyway.  The outside bar was tended by the stunning Britney and her male cohort "Boxcar".  They both were hopping as the place was packed.  Live music by John Hain, windows up and a slight breeze and the passing roar of freight trains - cool stuff.

Britney is one of my favorite summer barmaids.  Adorable and personable and never mopey. She works and smiles and is hot without projecting a gum-chomping air of snottiness like so many other young waitresses (including at least one here).  Sadly, she will be leaving in mid-August to go back college at Penn State.  Her goal is to someday own a bar.  Sounds like a great plan to me!

Wednesday is also the night where the $5.99/dozen clams are on sale for $4.99.   I am VERY thankful I ordered only one dozen because they were huge topnecks. As my clams were sent to the steamer the slick-haired, tattooed guy to my right loudly declared - "Those are so damned big you might have to cut the shit bag out of them!"   I am not sure what a clam's shitbag is but I was hoping it wasn't full as I ate these monsters.

The only thing about the RR House that wigs me out is the owner Jimmy G slinking around.  I have been here quite a few times and every single time I see him her is not smiling or talking to patrons or being happy - he is creeping around counting money or looking stern.  I would say that at least 60% of the times I have seen him he is counting money.  Personally, I like the illusion that my money is going to cold beer, good food and cute barmaids and not just to be worshipped by a tavern's owner. Maybe its just coincidence but thats been my experience.

 

RAPHY'S PLACE
formerly Boo Boo's

1016 Cotton Street   Reading, PA  19602

[8-2007]  My Wednesday afternoon stop at Boo Boo's  started off well with my getting a parking spot right out front. That almost never happens on this block of Cotton Street.

The neon lights were on, the door was propped open and I walked in expecting to see the usual collection of kitsch and ceiling decorations. But wait, I see a jukebox and the stuff is gone           and two pool tables stand in the dining room.

A guy comes to the bar - not the venerable old white haired Boo Boo but a young spanish guy with big bling rings on every finger.

WTF? What has happened to Boo Boo's - the best bar in Berks?!?!?

Turns out that 2 months ago Raphy opened shop after buying the place from Boo Boo.  Born in the Dominican Republic he came here as a young teenager.  He said his bar is open to           everyone and that he wants a place where all feel welcome and comfortable.  His comment that we are all Americans first was one that struck me.  This country, and especially Reading,       would be a better place if more people believed in that.

As you can see in the picture above, Raphy's now has normal hours and will soon start serving food.

I am sad to see the old diehard bar gone but the new owner seems motivated and well on his way to creating a new legend.  He said he may even keep the name although for now it's       "Raphy's Place".

I wished him well and will return again to enjoy more cold $2 bottles.

(JOHNNY & HON'S) ROBESONIA HOUSE
124 East Penn Ave   Robesonia   PA   19551   610-693-3473

 

[8-2006] It's been sometime since I drove east on 422 from Lebanon to Reading.  This route is far from overpopulated with bars and the few I saw were closed either closed forever                or because it was a Sunday. An alcoholic would have a hard time making this trip.

When I came into Robesonia I saw this bar with a couple of Harleys parked out front. My mouth started watering thinking of a good greasy Johnny & Hon burger or dog. I parked in the          back lot and entered.  The U-shaped bar wrapped around a log/chinking wall. Because of this whoever was tending is unable to see all of the bar unless they actually exert some effort and move.

The bartender made several trips to the 'bottom of the U' but never seemed to look to the far side where I was seated. This pisses me off because it's not that difficult of a task.  But, I guess it's better that he is failing to check the seats at a bar rather than being a NASA employee responsible for checking pre-launch systems for the space shuttle.

I relocated and soon had a cold, crisp Lager. The barkeep made small talk with the regulars. He had no food ready, and didn't seem too eager to  make a J&H dog, so I just downed my beer.    The middle-aged woman to my right was obviously an employee at the   times she wasn't on the customer side of the bar.  She was doing a good job of hanging on to her looks (through a nice tan and probably good genes) but had completely  lost any semblance of a feminine voice.  I will probably feel bad if the "huskier than a man" voice is from surgery or something but I suspect     its a result of years of smoking. Eeek.

A biker couple next to me got up and departed. The bartender looked up and saw them leaving and never said a word. Not greeting customers when they   enter or exit is a big no-no in my book.

One beer and I was out the door. There are probably some really good times at this place but today wasn't one of those days. 

[1-2011] Sometimes I truly am amazed at how fast time can pass. Old people say that the older you get the faster time goes by. Really, really true. So, 4 yrs + have gone by since my last review. Thankfully, this visit was a whole lot better than the last.

This time, the wait staff (a male and a female - possibly the managers?) were rockin' and rollin' - friendly people who were quick to serve up both beer and grub. Maybe the ultimate test will be to roll back in on the bike this summer and see what things feel like but for now - a lot better than before.

RUMORZ SPORTS BAR & NITECLUB
220 North Park Rd Wyomissing (Reading)   PA   19610   610-374-3200

www.rumorzinc.com

   

1: Interesting logo  2: Friendly owner guy serving us green shots  3: One of the green rooms

[3-17-2011 St Patrick's Day]  An ad in the Reading Eagle is what drew me to Rumorz on the glorious St Patrick's Day holiday. It listed several selling points for this new establishment but what caused me to make a first time visit here was FREE FOOD 5-10PM. :p  This location has been hard on taverns over the years so I hope this business does better.

My first impression when I walked in was, "Wow!".  Rumorz truly is a visually impressive bar and the use of green lighting was a nice touch. The free food included turkey and Italian subs (both good) with toppings and pasta.

The barmaid was cute and friendly ( I apologize for forgetting names - I don't think I remembered ANYONE's name from 3/17) and we were soon joined by a fellow who I think was one of the owners. He seemed legitimately interested in seeing that we were happy. Someone pumped the jukebox with money and in return we heard some Johnny Cash and Irish bands like the Dropkick Murphys.

I never read reviews of taverns before doing my own but I did see a Google listing with 14 comments.  They were all so glowingly positive that it seems like someone seeded them and I doubt they are all legit. My other negative of my first visit is that during our early evening visit several bouncers were on duty and seemed bent on maintaining a badass attitude that might be appropriate for a late night dance crowd but was unneeded for an early gathering of happy St Patrick's Day revelers.

I would like to return to Rumorz sometime soon for a dance or special event.

SHADES OF GREEN
3384 Main Street, (Rts 724 & 568 ), Birdsboro (Gibraltar), PA  19508    610-582-7355

[1-2-2006] Today was about the 5th time I have visited Shades of Green. It was again closed.

 

SHORTY'S BAR
272 West Main Street, Kutztown, PA. 19530   610-683-9802

       

[6-2006] Shorty's is a legend in Kutztown. The epitome  of college watering holes. I find humor in the fanciness of the K-Town upstairs.  Families and socialites wine and dine with no        regard for the far more blue collaring eating and drinking that is going on below them.

A recent karaoke event had the place jumping with some crazy singing antics. Good time.

 

[6-2007] It was Three Stooges night at Shorty's and I was one of the 3.  Hit the bar at 6:40PM on Friday and was CERTAIN the bartender told us the $1 hamburgers and $3 pizzas         STARTED at 7P. So, we patiently drank our $1.50 beers as the clocked ticked toward the magical hour of 7.  At 6:58 Jenna laughingly told us that the deals ENDED at 7PM.  Thankfully we        were able to order with a few seconds to spare.

Surprisingly good food for the prices.  The regular menu nachos were excellent.   Thanks for saving us Jenna!

SLAMMERS
1262 Cotton Street   Reading, PA  19602

Slammers Was Awarded The Crown of Excellence on March 19th 2011

   

 

[8-2007] Ahh, Reading beer.  And $2 at that!

My barmaid Traci was funny and talkative and I had to laugh as she described the good times they had two years ago on the bi-annual Slammers charter trip to somewhere warm and sunny.   This time they are jetting off to Cancun in Spring 2008.

Slammers has a nice  interior and if all the barmaids are as pleasant as Traci then this bar has something going for it.

[ 3-17-2008 St Patrick's Day ]  I  traditionally end my St Patrick's Day by going to the annual service at Hannahoe's grave.  After it ends I just go home.  This year we decided to hit one last place so we headed to the Coachlight.  Oops, lights off and nobody home.  Coming back up Cotton St we spied Slammer's with  the door standing open and loud, happy sounds coming out from within.

The doorman was a giant leprechaun who shook our hands and bought us a beer for being kilted. Thanks giant leprechaun man! People were having fun and the DJ had the whole back of the bar up and dancing.   Slammers is small but that was perfect for this night of partying. The barmaid was adorable and would best be described as 'sporty'.  Friendly too!  That makes two friendly barmaids here.  I don't know what the public opinion of Slammers is but I like it.

 

     

 

[ 3-17-2010 St Patrick's Day ] Concluding St Patty's at Slammers has become a tradition for my group of 3-17 friends. This year again proved that it was a wise choice.  This small bar is the very epitome of why I invest the time and money into this website.

I was happy to see the giant leprechaun guarding the door when we arrived and it turned out he (along with his wife) is the owner.  The DJ was playing a great mix of songs and people of all sorts of sizes and colors were dancing.  Arriving at 1AM means you miss the food and giveaways but I noticed signs proclaiming all sorts of dishes that had my mouth watering (the two noted ones being homemade pot pie and the Thursday steamed shrimp). I was also told about some new options that are coming including handmade crab cakes.

No cute barmaid this year but the fellow did a good job anyway.

Slammers is a rose in the middle of a very thorny street.  I most certainly intend to return sometime soon to sample the many foods that await me.

 

[ 3-17-2011 St Patrick's Day ] A friend recently told me that Slammers was closed because it was the bar in the Berks County news where a bunch of bad stuff happened. I was pretty sure it wasn't here and while nice people do bad things I always got the impression that Slammers' owners ran a pretty tight ship. Thankfully, he was wrong and it was the next bar down the street. Yess! That meant that our annual pilgrimage here on St Patrick's Day would continue.

Great weather invaded Pennsylvania this year and after stopping at several other places to drink and show off our support for St Patrick we decided to go to Cotton Street BEFORE the legendary Hannahoe's Grave ceremony.

Arriving around 9PM we found the place jumping as the DJ had most everyone on their feet.  Well decorated for St Patrick's Day and guarded at the front door by the Giant Leprechaun we were welcomed like long lost Irish brothers and sisters. I like Slammers more each time I visit. It is a business that is enduring in one of Reading's less-than-best neighborhoods and operated by people who seem to invest a lot of themselves in keeping things fresh and appealing (my mind has now gone to thoughts of a sign listing their Crab Cakes every Friday from 4PM until sold out).

You can still smoke here (never a positive in my book) but few places do a better job of controlling it. This year the doors were open and they must have great smoke eaters because I did not stink when I got home.

The DJ was loud and proud as he rocked this small taproom with music that made it hard not to jump up and dance to.  At one point he yelled a line about Slammers being the best f'ing place to rock out on March 17th. I have to agree.

Slammers, like most pubs, depends on its regulars to survive.  Slammers, UNLIKE  many pubs, is welcoming to those who AREN'T regulars.  Another positive.  I also like how they promote the nearby Hannahoe ceremony.

For helping to make another St Patrick's Day awesome, for friendly people and staff, completely decorating for 3/17 and for consistently being a cool place I have decided to award the coveted Crown of Excellence. Congratulations!

 

SNOOK'S PUB
1500 New Holland Rd   Reading, PA  19607   610-775-1868

 

[12-2007] Snook's has a unique location - sort of down under which is a characteristic I always like in a tavern.

My mid-weekday visit found the taproom pretty full.  All locals and all male but one.  The smoke hangs heavy in here and I am pretty sure I was the only one not smoking.  The sole female       was a middle-aged woman in some sort of a pants suit thingy.  She hobbled along like every move caused her great pain. That didn't stop her from creaking over to the cigarette machine to   crank out another $5 pack of smokes.

I like the gas fireplace and the fact that the taps come right out of a big metal walk-in cooler - the kind that normally sits out back or maybe in a back room but rarely in the barroom itself.

Barkeep Al said they have no Reading beer as "we had it on but it didn't sell". I asked him when that was and he said "a long time ago".  It amazes me how quickly some of Berks County's pubs were to can RB.   He didn't even have it in bottles.

As I sat with my $2 Lager draft I thought about the practice of tipping bartenders.  I think I commented on this in my blog or a in a review.  My conclusion is that a barkeep needs to have something worthy of being tipped - engaging personality, great service, or good looks for females.  Not having any of those shouldn't require a tip.

Not having Reading Beer pisses me off. I drank one beer and left.

SNUZZLES
145 Lyons Rd   Mertztown  PA   19539   610-682-7272

[10-2006  Reviewer: K-MO]  Don't blink or you will be sure to miss it - stone parking lot - no exterior lighting - doesn't look  like much from   the outside, but as you approach the       Bedrock like doors to enter, a feeling of something different consumes you.  Once inside, give your eyes a  second or two to adjust to the low lit lighting, and an inviting lodge like atmosphere       is what you will experience. The two stone fireplaces in the     dining area, and the bar create a feeling of warmth and welcome. Most appealing are the large comfortable cushioned barchairs  with "arms"; a very secure feeling when you are throwing a couple back.

While everyone who works at Snuzzles are bright and friendly; it is "Fred" the patched-eyed pirate bartender that will lift your  spirits.  Snuzzles'  unique tucked away atmosphere will surely be     a different experience from other bars in Berks County, but it is the food that will keep you coming   back. Gigantic portions, hot, fresh and cheap. Sharing is definitely an option. I recommend the cheese fries - the best I have ever had! Finally, bring CASH because they  don't accept anything else (there is an ATM in the back if you forget), and if you plan to stop by on a Friday or Saturday night be prepared to wait - the place gets packed.

 


SONNY'S WOODWARD CAFE
400 Woodward Street, Reading, PA  19601   610-373-1136

<6-2004> Sonny's never seems to be open when I drive by but the building seems to be maintained.  Little information on this tavern exists on   the internet other than several references       to its former or present existence as occasionally having dancers. Either way, when is it open?

<8-2007> I wonder if this place is still in business. Will do some snooping.

 

SPECKLED HEN COTTAGE PUB & ALEHOUSE
30 South 4th Street, Reading, PA  19602    610-685-8511


[2-27-2004  Friday] 
The Speckled Hen sits one block off Penn Street in downtown Reading. It is the reportedly the oldest building in Reading   and the only log structure on 4th St so its not hard to find.  A security guard was posed on the street to watch  over patrons' care - probably both    a  classy gesture and   a necessity.

My reason for stopping was to have a beer and not to dine so I sat down at the near end of the bar in one of only 3 remaining seats. Because of the Seinfeld  show that evening the restaurant  was full with a mostly middle aged crowd. Everyone seemed to be having a nice time and the food looked great. The atmosphere was very nice with candles burning and two gas fireplaces  casting a warm glow to the small dining rooms.


I passed on a Y-Lager to try a ($5) English Speckled Hen Pale Ale. It was tasty but I quickly returned to casting my support for Mr Yuengling at $3    per pint. Bartender Erik (part owner?)        made a comment that he didn't like Yuengling Lager "because it just is not a good beer". Maybe being a beer snob helped boost his reputation with his clientele and sell more expensive beers      or maybe that was his true opinion and he really didn't like it - who knows.


I was joined by a well-dressed older lady in stylish shoes, black leather pants and a white leather jacket over a dressy shirt. She said hello in her German accent and introduced herself as   Christel. This interesting and attractive lady skis, runs and bikes more  than any two women 1/2 her age. She was waiting for her blind date to arrive and charmingly related several stories          of the best bars in  Reading. The Speckled Hen has atmosphere, good looking food and interesting people. Further review is recommended.

 

THIRD & SPRUCE CAFE
238 S 3rd Ave,  West Reading, PA  19611    610-6376-5254

THE TIKI BAR
1150 Manatawny Rd, Earlville (Boyertown), PA  19512      N40 24.354   W075 35.248

2nd Location: Spring Mountain (at Spring Mtn Ski Area)    N40 16.333   W075 27.020

http://www.tikibarpa.com/

1: Tuesday July 11th Reading Eagle article on the Earl Twp attempt to take the Tiki Bar

[9-6-2004] I ran across this bar in an online directory and know I MUST make it a priority to seek it out. The website is one of the strangest I have ever seen. All sorts of candid thoughts, almost no photos and not even a good set of directions.

[6-2005]  A huge billboard advertising the Tiki Bar is standing along Rt 422 East.  But, it does not give directions.  Oddly enough, their website is  the first one I have seen that has a separate "GPS" section that lists the coordinates posted above!  This poorly worded but inviting text is posted on page 1 of their site:

 "The Dinner Party, nothing staid or stoic, just a good time out. Mostly outdoors in warmer weather but with plenty of shelter we keep the barbys hot everyday. With Jimmy Buffett in the background  and a server that can 'stop traffic' in the fore it's a fun relaxing evening. Hollering is expected on cue from the bell behind the bar, jokes can be traded with any of the staff and there's nothing corporate about us. We are     a bunch of friends inviting you and yours. Where ever you go - party well!! Both bars are open 7 days a week from early spring until late Fall.   Earlville is open on weekends all winter. Cya soon."

[6-2006]  Earl Township, in a move to make the world a safer place, has declared war on the Tiki Bar. Because of its flood-prone location they    are moving to condemn the property           and take it by eminent domain. See the newspaper article above and read all  about the shenanigans of the township and county here:  http://www.tikibarpa.com/manatawny.html

[8-25-2006] From the website:

"The best update ever: We win! The township backed off and are letting us keep our property. Eminent Domain should be addressed the next time             we vote.  To put people through the anguish that these supervisors put us  through is just wrong. I   plan to be here  F O R E V E R. Party on the Ragin' Manatawny!  Thanks for all the support from all quarters.    I am sure the phone calls, the emails, letters and some good press is what carried the day (besides the fact that it was a bad move  on their part). Party on!"

 

TIM'S UGLY MUG BAR & GRILL
1281 East Main Street   Douglassville  PA  19518   610-404-1155

www.timsuglymug.com

     

[11-2006] My first visit to the Ugly Mug left me with little time to do more than drink a beer and watch the Eagles screw up a   few times. I like the  main sign out front and the inside is well decorated.  Many of the patrons were there to watch football and I assume there must be some good beer   and/or food specials.

The barmaid was an attractive young lass with an impressive badonkadonk. This is probably a pretty fun place at times and I will  have to return    when I have time to do it justice.

 

TOMMY'S CAFE & CABANA BAR
220 Douglas Street   Reading   PA   19606   610-373-3115

N40 20.844   W075 55.928    www.tommyscafe.com

        

 

[5-2005] I originally 'discovered' Tommy's while turning around to head the opposite way on Rt61.  The main sign has a stylized version of  Reading Beer's 'Old Gus' which caught my eye because it's a darn shame that this icon is nearly MIA in Reading.

My first two or three winter visits were both very impressive and very unimpressive.  Impressive because the inside of this bar is packed with photos and  relics and other items showing the fascinating history of Reading and its beer and breweries.  Unimpressive  because the bar staff paid very little to the customers - spending most of their time ordering beer and food, gossiping     or eating  their own food.

The beer collectibles alone were enough to bring me back but equally tempting was the outdoor cabana bar. Even in the bitter cold of winter the outdoor bar looked enticing - and better yet,      they were slated to expand it.

<7-2005>  My visit today was to fill my stomach. The food that I have seen in the past always looked good so I ordered the Portabella sandwich.     It soon arrived and was excellent. While           I was waiting for the food a neighbor lady came in to politely complain about a young drunken couple that  had stolen a bar glass at last call and exited only to get into fight and smash the       glass in front of her house.  She occasionally eats at Tommy's but was so pissed that she  swept the glass up and dumped it on  the sidewalk in front of the tavern.

The manager, Corey, listened to her and said that he would find out who it was but I don't think I ever heard him apologize.   Seems to me that a simple apology would be the logical           starting point for any complaint from a neighbor - no matter how  warranted it may or may not be. Neighbors have the power  to make it miserable for tavern owners.

'Tommy's wife'  made a brief appearance. This stunner looked amazing with her tanned hide and I wondered what Tommy looked like. Someone quickly answered, "go out back and look              at the octopus". It seems the artist painted the giant mural to look like the owner.

The cabana bar is very nice and uses the limited space wisely. I especially liked the in-wall fish tank and the well and water fountain. I bet that this  place hops on a weekend night.

[11-2005]  A RADICALLY improved website - great graphics and current info - check it out!

 

TRAVELER'S  PUB
Reading, PA

TROOPER THORN'S IRISH BEEF HOUSE
415 Morgantown Road (Route 10)   Reading   PA   19611   610-685-4944

www.irishbeefhouse.com (not working as of Spring 2008)

           

   

 

[4-2003] Trooper Thorn's is just a few minutes off 222 on Route 10. Even though Reading has never had  much of an Irish population, I was surprised to find that very few bars even          make an attempt to sell themselves as Irish. This one is the only  one that appears to be giving it a decent try. Irish & Scottish  flags fly off the front of the building and the foyer is built                to resemble a British phone booth.

Several brands of imported beer are available on tap and you have to buy Y-Lager in bottles because it's not available as a  draft (VERY rare in this area!). Stamped tin covers the ceiling and    walls and the floor is wide-board wood. Knick-knacks such as rugby balls and photographs lend  atmosphere. The Reading Rugby team must party here because a piece of chalkboard is prominently nailed to the space between the bar area  and the dining room - it reads READING RUGBY RULES.

The overall first impression that Trooper Thorn's gives off is a good one but it is a shame that the drone of several televisions is what fills your ears instead of music. If I cared enough about college basketball playoffs to watch it in a bar I would spend my    time in a sports bar. The available seating in the bar area is pretty limited so I stood for both of my first 2 stops. The crowd seemed to be more a gathering of tired old men than the hip social spot for younger folks that    I heard it was.

On both nights the bar was tended by men. I have never understood why tavern owners hire men to serve booze when the majority   of its customers are men. Visit #2 did present a cute  waitress who was serving up food that looked and smelled quite good. Her female cohort was a chipper young lass who displayed   her incredible abs and chest in a skin-tight t-shirt that read: "ALGEBRA IS FOR LOVERS". I'm sure that nobody in there that evening had ever contemplated algebra in that manner but after that sight - most probably are seeing math in a new light!

The parking lot at this bar is pretty nasty with ruts and old timbers and broken glass. The best thing about exiting the bar is the  view of nearby Neversink Mountain. I am looking forward to    sitting on the deck this summer and having a cold one as I gaze at its  900' peak.

Thoughts: return for food and Irish beer when I can sit at the bar or a table, return when there is Irish music playing, ask the girl  what exactly she meant by her shirt.

[3-15-2004] Recon for stop #2 on the Hannahoe Hash. Barmaid Stacey had just gotten through what she described as an  "insane" lunch period. She was finishing up the food and       drinks for the remaining bar patrons. At least this time I could
sit comfortably at the bar.

[3-17-2004 - St Patrick's Day] Our VERY short hash ended here and I could tell by the amount of condensation on the   windows that the   place was going to be packed. A light snow      was falling which made the warmth of the building feel good. The noise of the crowd was a sure indicator that people were having a great time. I walked in and immediately the lead singer   commented on my tiger stripe kilt. The building was jammed so we  claimed a small space near a table of older women out on the town. The three man band played well and had everyone clapping and dancing. Interest was high in the kilt throughout the evening. Tons of door prizes being awarded.  Trooper Thorn's would have been a great place to stay all night but we had to    drive on with the schedule. We stayed an hour or so and left to go to downtown Reading. The atmosphere tonight couldn't have been any better and they have now redeemed themselves for my mediocre impression on the first few visits.

[3-17-2005 - St Patrick's Day]  Where does the time go? It sure doesn't seem like it has been a YEAR since we were partying here for St Patrick's!!     As expected, this place was        packed at 9PM when we arrived. The first sight I saw was a 'leprechaun' doing a  jig on top of huge wooden table that had been placed in the front section. He soon went back to painting shamrocks on the face of anyone who would sit still long enough to allow him.

This year, Trooper Thorn's had "Irish Week" with something going on each day.  The band, Celtic Spirit, played nearly non-stop. This excellent 2 or 3 man  band (i cant remember) said this      was the third pub they had played in that day.

Wisely, two 'tents' had been installed out back and the deck bar was open and serving a limited selection of beer. This drew some  of the masses out of the building. The radiant heater was a great idea but one just wasn't enough. If there had been 2 or 3 more, it would have been downright cozy  out there. There is nothing finer than sitting outside in cold weather with those heaters making   things toasty.

Besides the two kilted ones in our group and the band, only one other guy was wearing this garment. More people need to join the revolution of the free!!  The same "photographer" worked the crowd as occurred last year. The  www.irishbeefhouse.com  website  sucks and I hope some of his better shots eventually make it there. Everyone  had a great time and Trooper Thorn's is probably the best place to be on St Patrick's Day.

[12-2005] Sexy Elf Contest Night.  Trooper Thorn's is one of the most space-limited pubs in Berks County.  The Sexy Elf contest was      advertised as starting at 9PM with final judging at midnite.  Our arrival at 1030 found several contestants inside the sardines in a can environment.  One particularly naughty elfette, attired in red with white garter belt and thigh highs, told us that the contest hadn't even started yet.  The inside was literally packed and you risked suffocation if you made an attempt to get to the bar.  Why don't they double or triple up on the radiant heaters, throw some plastic sheeting up out back and use the deck? There was enough body heat inside here to overcome any chill that may have tried sneaking in from people going back and forth.  In spite of the contest, we didn't stay and photos were impossible.

 

n       

 1:  He tried four bottles but was met only with failure    2: A brief pause in the dancing     3: Put that in your pipe  and smoke it  4: Inside the tented deck    5: Kristin (R)and friend

[3-17-2006 - St Patrick's Day]  2006 marked Trooper Thorn's 2nd Annual "Irish Week" this year.  With the actual holiday on a Friday you can imagine the madness that broke out.      Cars lined Rt 10 for 1/4 mile and fire codes kept new people out until   others left (which wasn't happening    that often). Thankfully, the doorman recognized the power of the kilt and waved us right in.

As it is every year, the crowds were elbow to elbow but the giant heated tent over the deck made things a bit more manageable. This is a fun place  on St Patrick's Day.  All sorts of goofy people, a great band and excellent food.

This year we somehow acquired a table on the outside deck.  We were right near the flap that allowed people to come and go to the jiffy johns. This created a wave of hot and cold air each time someone passed through.  No worries though as our happy group stayed warm by dancing and sheer willpower.

My plate of corned beef and cabbage was delicious and reasonably priced. 

Each year more and more pubs in Reading host special St Patrick's shindigs. This is great as only 6.4% of the population is of Irish ancestry (vs. the 17.5% German and 50% Hispanic and black).  Trooper Thorn's will surely be a hub of all things Irish for years to come.

[3-17-2008 - St Patrick's Day]  St Patrick's Day is a holiday that Irish pubs are morally obligated to support.  When a new Irish bar opened in York PA it was instantly assumed  that they would be the main sponsor of the local parade. And they did.

Trooper Thorn's has always been a gathering place for fun on March 17th.  This year, the website vanished and when I got there I found that there was no live band. The advertising still announced a whole weekend of holiday-related happenings but why would they cut out an Irish band on St Pat's!?!?!  And, the piper was just standing around as the jukebox was blaring and he wasn't able to play over it. Odd.  So, we asked the bartender to turn off the jukebox and soon the piper was piping and people were dancing and stomping.

And it always amazes me that 98% of the patrons here have no knowledge of what the name of the bar means.  A: Its a John Wayne movie and B: It is a really good movie to watch around this holiday.  And I miss the band.

    

 St Patty's 2008

[ 3-17-2010 St Patrick's Day ]  Elbow to elbow people is what marks St Patrick's evening at Trooper Thorns.  This year's air quality was affected by a perfect storm of hormonal college students drinking profusely as they chase the opposite sex in hope of a holiday hookup and the wafting of winds blowing from the nearby sewer plant. 

The $5 pitchers of beer were a bargain on a holiday. The barstaff had no time for niceties as the thirsty mob continued its never ending press to the rail.  Some notable memories: a fine looking fellow in full Scottish attire including a dress kilt, a bigtime a-hole at the bar flapping a $20 bill to get a server's attention (and surprisingly getting it) and then leaving no tip and a lovely young lass outside who I talked with as her boyfriend copiously puked up everything he had ingested through the day.

THE UGLY OYSTER DRAFTHAUS
21 South 5th Street (Corner of 5th & Cherry) Reading, Berks Co, PA. 19602
610-373-6791
http://www.theuglyoyster.com/

           

1: Pretty view with the ugly quickie mart next door cropped off   2: Bastardized Guinness logo   3: Outside wall    4: The week's specials  5: Daisy and a fresh Guinness  6: A HUGE old porcelain pisser

 

[3-2004] This from the Ugly Oyster homepage: " The original building housing the Ugly Oyster was founded in the 1700s and is the oldest pub in Berks County. After many years in many different forms, owner Glenn Rigg acquired the bar in 1991. Working in the restaurant business for many years, Glenn had long been interested in creating a bona fide Irish Pub when he learned about the Guinness Irish Pub concept program. To claim authenticity,   interested pub owners must take formal classes through the Guinness Brewery and must meet specific guidelines.

After taking these classes at the Guinness Brewery in Ireland, Glenn undertook the massive rework required to create an authentic pub, a redesign    so extensive that only a small portion of the back bar remains from the former interior.

On St Patrick's Day 2000, the Ugly Oyster Drafthaus opened in its current form  to rave reviews and a loyal and growing clientele"

[3-16-2004]  Checked with this place about their activities for St Patrick's Day and they have NOTHING special. The semi-snooty woman said "it's a  small place and we get extremely packed and have no room for a band". They don't even have  a single special thing for the day in spite of being an Irish bar. Their kitchen closes at 8PM.

[3-17-2004 - St Patrick's Day]   Admittedly, I did not approach the Ugly Oyster with a very good attitude. Their attitude on the phone yesterday soured me on even coming here.  What         I did find was a very nice pub that was full of a younger crowd of people who seemed to be enjoying their time there in spite of the horrible lack of music. Roving bands of males were graciously offering to apply Guinness temporary tattoos to any female who remotely looked accepting.

[9-4-2004] The Ugly Oyster has good air conditioning and the chill was nice as I came in from an 85deg F muggy afternoon.    The entire wait and kitchen staff were sitting at the bar and I was the sole customer. One thing about service industries that many  people fail to grasp is that the customers go to theaters, bars and restaurants to get away from their problems and issues.   I am always amazed when the staff of a business continues to discuss their BS in front of customers. The staff of the UO fit this mold perfectly. I wanted to hear about their personal stories as little    as I wanted to hear the one woman griping about  the way the reservation chart was laid out.

So, I sat at the bar and drank two $2 Lager draft pints. The barmaid made zero effort to speak to me in spite of me being the only customer.

With Cher in town for an evening performance it was obvious that they were going to get blasted by customers tonight. The chalkboard listed  "keep the glass" night every Wednesday from 1  0P-2A and Thursday's live Irish music. This place has everything: great exterior, authentic interior, interesting items that have been collected over the years like a tiara and a teeny thong -    everything except a decent staff.

Would I return to the Ugly Oyster? Absolutely. Would I wave a magic wand and replace the staff if I could? Instantly.

[12-2005]  The Monday after Christmas. Chilly but not bitter. Grey enough to make the Oyster extra inviting with it's warm glow.

I chose and ordered a $2.50 Lager from a t-shirt and jeans wearing female barmaid/waitress.  She served it without comment or smile. Seeing a brochure for the February 2006 Celtic festival at Valley Forge, I asked to see it. Her reply was a fairly snippy, "I need it back, it's the owner's and he just got it". I didn't ask to take it home - just look at it. Who hires these people?

Daisy soon arrived and we watched the waitress robotically attend to customers.  A male started tending bar and I almost fell out of my stool      when I THOUGHT I saw him pull a pint of   Guinness in one motion.  If I was sitting in a genuine Guinness pub and saw this I would probably go into cardiac arrest.   Turns out the guy was the owner. I learned this by hearing the semi-drunk comments of a guy at the other side of the bar as he loudly spoke to a Bulgarian guy about the greatness of America and how  'Glenn' was one of the best guys anywhere.  Before long another pint was ordered and I am happy to report that it was pulled perfectly!

Two shots of Jameson, a pint of Guinness and two cups of salty but tasty shrimp stew (with one shrimp each) totaled $17.00

Our conversation was soon interrupted by the crash of dishes breaking on the floor when the grumpy waitress collided with the owner coming out of the kitchen.

Its seems to me that working at the Oyster would be fun - Irish music playing in the background, people from all over the area coming to eat and drink, good looking surroundings, etc.  Maybe Glenn will someday hire someone who seems to like their job or maybe even someone wearing a kilt.

 

VAN REED INN
2707 Bernville Road, Reading,  PA  19605    610-372-3834

 

       

Photo 3: John Edward Bosacco, "The kindness and generosity of this man made it possible for us to purchase this business" 4: Barmaid Jess who sports 19 tattoos  5: Her impressive ears

[5-2007]  An emailer comments: "The Your Van Reed listing is old (Berks County). That girl, who was not the friendliest bar maid isn't there anymore. You should do another article about the place. We have been regulars there for years, that girl only worked there 6 mos."

[12-2007]  A snowy day seems to have brought a bunch of people indoors as the bar was surprisingly full when I arrived around 2PM on this weekday.  My $2.25 Reading Beer was cold and crisp.  Some good music was jamming on the jukebox and the barmaid was friendly.

 

VICTOR'S CAFE
2012 Penn Avenue, West Lawn, PA    610-670-0254

   

 

[12-23-2001]  Nice old-fashioned neighborhood bar owned by Nino since 1982. He owned a bar in Indiana, PA before buying this one. Obviously    a football place with Penn State and NFL clippings, posters,etc all over the walls. Well-decorated for Christmas.   A few railroad and hobo items fit in with the freight trains that scream by just behind the bar. Three TVs playing football on a Sunday afternoon. Three guys and a one young woman at the bar. Newspapers available to read. $2.40 for a bottle of Yuengling Lager  ( based on the majority of the curbside trash being Lager cases I take it it’s  a popular choice ) Take-out beer cooler has revolving shelves. Computer printed 8.5x11” sheets of paper have images of the food they sell. Interesting mix of people included office and blue collar types, younger sports fans and even a lady in her late 50s who rolled in driving her 2001 Corvette. She said that her husband died in March 2001 and she was stopping by all the places that mean something to her to wish them well for the Holidays.

[10-2005] Victor's is under construction. The side door is blocked off because leaving that way would have you walking into  a ten feet        deep pit. The train tracks are gone (although Nino swears it will be back) and the wall behind the bar is just plywood. The plan is to make the now-straight bar  in a U-shaped one. The plywood is temporary and the photo shows what will be he back of the new bar.

I asked Nino why he was remodeling and he said, "we had to do something, the place was falling down and hadn't been worked on in 30 years". That's a  pretty good reason!  Victor's drinks are strong and cheap - $2 for a 7/7.  A large pint of Lager was $1.80.

If you stand behind this tavern and look across the tracks and to the left - you can see the head of a unique concrete statue/memorial to FDR.   Why its at the end of this street is a mystery to me but I am sure that there was some circumstance to its original unveiling and placement.

   

June 2006 construction photos

[10-2007] Where does the time go?  I truly can not believe it has been TWO YEARS since Nino showed me around the work being done inside his bar.  But it has.   Wow.

I dropped in on a weekday afternoon to find two people at the bar - a standard looking guy and a brunette female.  Both were sipping their beers and watching a sports recap show.

The barmaid was pretty disinterested which is a trait I can't stand. She tapped my $2.50 Reading draft and then went back to playing video poker. Arrgh.

The remodel job is really nice. You would never guess what it looked like before. Even the outside looks 100% better.

The side door seems to now be exit only. I didn't see grapefruit soda anywhere (which was always visible before).  The coolest feature about this tavern is the model railroad that circles the place - suspended from the ceiling. Very cool and I even noticed and old Reading Beer boxcar.

Nino came trodding in, dressed in shorts, and restocking the bar. He is truly an old time tavern owner.

VILLAGE TAVERN
63 North Centre Ave  (Route 61), Leesport  PA   19533    610-926-1637

 

VIRGINVILLE HOTEL
Main Street   Virginville   PA   19564    610-562-7072

WESTY BAR & GRILL
279 West State Street  Hamburg PA   19526