Put-in-Bay has seen its share of new businesses over the decades. But, ironically, many have been themed after other destinations such as the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, Maine and even Ireland. This weekend, the popular summer resort island will receive its own tribute when Put-in-Bay’s newest old bar opens its doors as Reel Bar.
Reel Bar will celebrate their Grand Opening party on Saturday, May 10. Christening the Reel Bar stage will be The Womacks, who will perform at 8:30 p.m. The bar and restaurant, which is located in the historic building formerly known as Tony’s, has been completely remodeled to offer a rustic setting honoring its island roots. As the name suggests, Reel Bar will feature décor focused on fishing, boating and Lake Erie island life.
Over the off-season, the new owners, Andy Christensen, former General Manager of the Boathouse and Ray Fogg, a popular island entertainer, have had time to prepare the bar for an exciting new direction, yet one that is respectful of the island’s old ways. In a tongue-in-cheek play on their new name, they say it will be a “real new bar in a real old place.”
When you step into Reel Bar, you will notice the place has been remodeled in a manner which celebrates the treasured old building. Great care has been taken to create a comfortable lived-in feel, utilizing natural materials such as reclaimed barn wood, real stone, recycled antique lighting and lots of cool old décor. Tribute will be paid to the building’s past as Tony’s with old signs, photos, as well as the beautiful original back bar, which has remained.
Reel Bar’s food and drink selections will focus on freshness, with house made sauces and hand cut fries along with fresh fruit juices in drinks. The menu features huge walleye sandwiches, hormone and anti-biotic free beef hamburgers, walleye nachos, black bean burgers, ceviche, fresh salads, caprese sandwiches, flatbreads and much more. Specialty drinks include something they call Reel Squeezed Drinks, which are cocktails prepared with fresh squeezed grapefruit or oranges. In addition, Reel Bar will feature a number of old-style cocktails such as the Moscow Mule, Classic Daiquiri, Tom Collins and Pimms Cup, to name a few. They also have 16 beers on tap.
Reel Bar is also taking a slightly different path as it relates to live entertainment, striving to offer diverse choices. The Ray Fogg Show, a music/comedy show which has become a mainstay on the island, will appear most weekends at 7 p.m. Appearing before and after Ray will be a variety of music from Americana to Zydeco. Most of the acts performing at Reel Bar dedicate at least a portion of their show to original music. You can expect to hear Bob Gatewood, Shane Piasecki, Hey Monea, Cats on Holiday, The Womacks and others through the season. The intimacy of the Reel Bar stage will make performers accessible to the audience, creating an entertainment experience so folks can have “a reel good time”.