If Mill Avenue were a Monopoly board, Julian Wright (the man behind La Bocca, Canteen, and the now defunct Library Bar and Grill) may have just snatched up Park Place and the Boardwalk.
You'll find his newest property, the Handlebar and Grill, just around the corner and up the street from Canteen, the always-crowded tequila bar that opened in 2010. The Handlebar, a bike-friendly joint, opens to the public today and looks to cater to the older, more "chill" folks that Wright insists frequent the street that's become known for wasted co-eds, frozen desserts and dirt cheap drinks.
It's hard to imagine a new drinking hole that would dare specialize in anything but craft beer - and Handlebar is no exception. The selection of 21 beers on tap will include eight European, eight local, and eight American craft beers, all of which will be hand selected by Handlebar's Beer Buyer (and "Resident Beer Geek") Billy Clayton.
Clayton says he hopes to feature new beers about every two weeks. With World of Beer up the street and consistently packed, Handlebar seems to offer a comparable (though much, much smaller) selection of beers -- and a seat to enjoy it in.
For those familiar with the vibe inside either of Wright's other Mill Ave. spots, the modern feel will come as no surprise. Reclaimed wood and recyclable materials make up what he describes as a "more cozy" patio. The design, complete with park benches and lighted trees channels the feel of a city park. With an open-air bar and high, warehouse-esque ceilings the interior of the space veers away from the dark, dancing atmosphere of other nightlife hotspots.
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In addition to marketing the bar as bike friendly (it seems appropriate to remind you at this point that you can get a DUI on a bike), Wright says the patio is also dog friendly. He added as a caveat that if the idea becomes overly popular, the bar will consider taking "doggie reservations" to limit the number of pooches in the place at any one time.
With a kitchen about the square-footage of a medium-sized walk-in closet, The Handlebar keeps the menu short and simple. Diners can choose from six locally sourced sausages - Schreiner's, of course - all of which are priced between $4 and $6. Other options include a Handlebar Burger; hand cut fries with a selection of creative but simple dipping sauces; and (because you gotta) house made Belgium pretzels.
Starting today, The Handlebar and Grill will be open from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. Starting October 1, the hours will be 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. For more information visit the Handlebar and Grill website or Facebook pages.