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Hangin' With The Locals

By Jan Morgan-Swegle

Like millions of people, I loved the ‘80s TV sitcom, “Cheers.” In case you don’t remember, the premise of the show was how people with little in common could become good friends because they shared a place where they relaxed and escaped the routine of their lives for just a little while. No one judged them, no one shunned them. Everyone was welcome.

Most people who remember the show want to have a “Cheers” that they can call their own and I am one of them. People want that place where “everybody knows your name.” The place where Coach and Woody know where to place your drinks because people sit in the same seats whenever they come in. I want to be that person who opens the door and everyone at the bar calls out my name. I want a place where I belong.

I finally found it.

Located at 1107 New Pointe Blvd Ste 9, Leland, is “The Local’s Tavern--South of the Bridge” (facing U.S. 17 next to the paint store.) I felt at home the minute I walked in. Painted over the bar is the Tavern’s motto: “Nights You Won’t Remember With Friends You’ll Never Forget” and as “Cheers” fans will recall, that was one of the most popular drink tributes from the show and part of the lyrics from the show’s theme song, “Here’s to the Nights,” by Ringo Starr.

Scott Burrell, one of the owners of The Local’s Tavern—South of the Bridge, pointed at the sign proudly, not because of the nod to “Cheers,” but because to him, that is a sign of the love and dedication that people in the community have for the Tavern. “Our customers painted that sign,” he said. “They were tradespeople working on the establishment that was here before us and closed. They came together donating their time and skills and helped paint and do repairs. From then on, they have pride and a ‘this is my bar’ mentality and we consider them friends.”

The Tavern was quiet in the early afternoon the first time I was there, but well attended. People with children sat at tables and enjoyed lunch and a few men sat at the bar talking sports. The bartender, Whitney, called out names and greetings as people arrived. She knew their names and drink orders before they were even seated. You could tell that customer service is very important here. The environment was clean and the food presentation was on par with larger restaurants in the area.

When asked how she remembers everyone’s name and order of choice, Whitney laughed and said, “I’m a visual learner. People are creatures of habit. They usually sit in the same place, order the same drink and mostly the same food. I picture where the person sits and then I visualize what drink order is in front of them. Once I put that together, the name just comes to me. But we have a lot of regulars here, so it’s really not that hard.”

She managed the lunch food and drink orders for the entire restaurant all by herself and didn’t lose her magical smile once. From salads to sandwiches and everything in between, the food she presented looked wonderful. Everyone who came in seemed to be her friend. “The best thing about this place is the people—not just the owners—they are great, too, but it’s the people who come in,” she said. “Everyone is welcome. Everyone gets along. It’s an accepting and diverse group of people and I love it here.”

The owners — Scott Burrell, Scott and Sharon Evans, and Eric Reitz — have created not only a great restaurant and bar, but an event environment. Scott detailed a list of activities that bring people in. “On Mondays, we have pool tournaments, on Tuesday, it’s trivia, on Wednesday we have music bingo and Thursday through Sunday we have live music. We try to have something for everybody,” he said. “We feel like we are a family-oriented business. There is a good mix of people of all ages that come here, which is why we want to keep trying new things.”

Shane, who has frequented the Tavern for more than four years said, “This is my ‘go to’ place. I come here twice a week just to hang out. The service is phenomenal, food is great and the staff takes an interest in people who come here. There’s no bar drama, just people getting together to talk and have a good time.”

Another patron, Aaron, feels the same way. “I come here every Tuesday to play trivia,” he said, “but this is really my ‘Cheers’ bar. You get to be friends with everybody, the service is exceptional and it’s a fun place to be. The mayor even had a campaign event here—she loves this place, too.”

Daniel, who was one of the people who donated his time and skills to the Tavern is now “a local” with a lot of friends. He comes often to enjoy the food and entertainment and is proud of what he contributed. “I painted that wall,” he said, pointing to the area behind us. “And I’d do it again. I love this place and the people. They always have new things going on.”

Sharon, who does the marketing, purchasing and administrative functions for Local’s and is described as the backbone of the organization, said that one of the newest things customers will experience is an outside bar, near the patio. “We think it will add a lot to what we have to offer,” she said. “You’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful weather with your friends and family while you’re dining on great food and listening to music.”

Music is very much a part of Local’s. Sharon explained that like many restaurants, they had to go to a take out strategy for a short time to keep the business open due to COVID. “We came up with a delivery and curbside pick-up service for our patrons,” she said. “We played music bingo in the parking lot from 4 to 8 pm with our curbside customers to continue the fun atmosphere we are known for.”

Sharon had one more fun surprise. On April 28, in a partnership with local businessman Anthony West, they opened a Burney’s Bakery franchise in Waterford, behind the Leland Smokehouse. Burney’s will offer the ever-popular cream filled croissants, pastries and ice cream. Sharon said the opening was a huge success and they look forward to serving Leland for a long time.

So, if you are someone looking for a great place to relax and enjoy with your friends and family, get over to Local’s Tavern—South of the Bridge, and hang with the locals!


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