Small Bar has reopened in University Heights; tonight, in celebration of Bartenders Weekend, the bar is hosting a event from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. that will feature a funk music soundtrack and drinks from guest bartenders from around the country. Closed since mid-February, the bar has undergone both cosmetic and critical updates, from a fresh coat of paint and new furniture to shored up flooring and a cleaned up kitchen; starting Wednesday, it will resume its weekday hours of 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.
When it was first announced that owner Karen Barnett would be partnering with a well-respected restaurant group to take her 10-year-old bar into its next chapter, regulars were naturally worried about how it might disrupt their favorite neighborhood hangout. There have been changes and adjustments, including some staff turnover, but half of the original employees remain as do many of its core features, from the classic jukebox to the iconic arches above the bar and the signature beer list for its now-36 taps that Barnett will continue to manage.
The menu is short and sweet, and still stocked with Small Bar staples such as the cheesesteak, wings, nachos, and legendary fuego melt, but Trust Restaurant Group executive chef/co-founder Brad Wise has added snacks like fried cauliflower with chili aioli and a few new seafood dishes including peel n’ eat shrimp and hamachi sashimi. And there is a renewed focus on cocktails, with partner Frank McGrath (Polite Provisions) creating a list of mostly bright and refreshing cocktails that are accessible and appealing. A happy hour should launch soon with deals on drinks and small bites and weekend brunch will restart on March 16 with the return of Small Bar’s over-the-top Bloody Mary.