MANCHESTER, NH – In what could be the most whimsical and brilliant downtown business renovation/buzz generating project in recent history, the soon-to-open Bonfire Country Bar is letting it all hang out on Elm Street.
I couldn’t walk by without poking my head in through the wide-open door.
A carpenter was working out on the sidewalk slicing boards with a table saw, and the entire front of the rustic-looking watering hole is currently exposed, windowless and already equipped with comical barstools for the outdoor bar seating, which resemble the bottom half of a cowboy with spurs, a fat-bottomed girl in Daisy Dukes, and a horse’s tail end. Passers-by can stop and stare, or step inside for a look at the lay out – or to ask a few questions, if they’re curious.
Owner Tanner Herget, who also operates a Bonfire Country Bar and The Drink Exchange, both in Portland, Maine, says what customers at his other establishments seem to appreciate most is the laid-back atmosphere, and the sense of “fun-ness.”
Even if they aren’t fans of country music, the tire swings and basement game room seem to win them over, he says.
“If you look at some of our comments on our ratings, my go-to famous one is a five-star review from a wife who’s a country fan and whose husband hates country music, but the comment was, ‘My husband actually didn’t mind it,’ says Herget. “We have the full downstairs game room, so if the wife wants to be up here enjoying live music on the weekend, the husband can be down there playing games like Giant Jenga, Giant Connect 4, Big Buck Hunter, Bubble Hockey, Air Hockey – all that kind of stuff.”
Although the theme bar is obviously still under construction, Herget expects to have a soft opening in a few weeks, with a grand opening shindig set for Sept. 15.
“We do have a big-name artist coming for our grand opening party – we’ll announce who it is the week before our opening,” he says, which means anyone who wants the scoop should be following Bonfire Country Bar Manchester on Facebook.
And if the country music or the suspended wooden porch swings don’t do it for you, it’s likely the free bacon will: Bonfire offers a “Free Bacon” Happy Hour seven days a week from 4-7 p.m.
They had me at free bacon.