The Beer Barrel doors open at 9 o'clock in the morning, every morning except Sunday. You can set your watch by it. Owner Terri Alvey keeps the long standing, punctual early start alive for the customers who make the small, free standing bar at 1294 Roswell Road, on the fringes of East Cobb, part of their regiment.
"Jim Baker is a war hero; he's been coming here for years, right at 9, "Alvey said. "Jim was at Normandy. A lot of guys from the American Legion spend time here."
Alvey estimates the bar has about 50 core customers who have been stopping in for a cold beverage and conversation for decades. Many of them war heroes.
"This past January we lost my friend, "Chief," He was a chief in the Navy who knew John F. Kennedy, they met while serving overseas. Chief remembered a lot of details and told great stories. He was on a carrier in Pearl Harbor when the harbor was bombed."
Many tales have been recalled at the small U-shaped bar inside, what started out as, a drive-thru package store. Legal maximum seating capacity is posted at 24 and there are now additional tables and chairs on an enclosed side porch and open-air front patio.
Prices are small, too. Alvey sells draft beers for $2 and mixed drinks for $4. She sees little effect of the stale economy on her business that employs two bartenders and herself.
Alvey is a long-time Marietta bar owner and manager. She owned Kastaways Bar & Grill on Powders Springs Street for 15 years prior to coming to the Beer Barrel. The Kastaways years included motor bike riding with lots of friends and is where Alvey began hosting and organizing fundraisers.
The ocean of asphalt around the Beer Barrel becomes setting for a flatbed truck as a music stage when the bar throws an event to raise money for a cause. Alvey shares that the customers are the ones who make the fundraisers possible by contributing food, items for auction and other donations in-kind.
Q. What's the best thing about your job?
A. I just love the people. I love what I do.
Q. What is the best thing about East Cobb?
A. The people who come in here just make this place. This location is good; there is a lot of traffic up and down Roswell Road.
Q. Why did you pick this kind of business?
A. The bar business is all I've ever done. I moved to Daytona Beach when I was 19. I was going to college, studying education, and I got a job at an ABC liquor store that had a bar in the back. It was a great job for me. It was great money. I worked at night and went to school.
Q. When did you start your business?
A. I bought this place in 2010. It was first named Roswell Road Package Store and had a drive thru side window. The McDougal family ran it until the late 1990s. Everybody used to call it McDougal's.
Q. How did your business get started?
A. I worked here four years before I bought the place. The owner retired and moved.
It was my idea to add the side porch and the shuffle board table and then we added the front patio. I'm also the one who added liquor. The customers protested because it was always only beer and wine, but, it's worked out OK.
Q. Do you have advice for anyone who'd like to start a small business in this area?
A. If you're going to own a bar, you have to have worked in the bar business. It's definitely a 24-hour job. I get calls about this place at all hours.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know?
A. This is a fun neighborhood place. Everyone is welcome. The staff and customers will make you feel like you've been coming here forever. It's kind of smoky sometimes because it's small, but, we've got tables and chairs outside.
On Saturday, Oct. 20, there will be free bratwurst and German potato salad as part of Oktoberfest Day. Wear a Bavarian costume and try German beer. We always have flat screens for college football, or, Let's Make A Deal, if you stop in before lunch.
Terri Alvey, owner
1294 Roswell Road