There’s a sense of history present when you walk into the Pearl River Hotel, a local saloon that’s been pouring pints of Guinness — along with a healthy dose of camaraderie — since owner Keith Kennedy’s grandparents ran the place in the 1960s.
Its tagline? “Your great-great grandfather’s favorite bar.”
The building began life as a brewing company on the village’s Main Street in 1872, so the 14-foot-high tin ceilings, creaky Southern pine floors, and lengthy period bar are glorious touchstones to another era. You could spend hours pondering the walls full of memorabilia.
But these days, patrons are more apt to grab their drinks and head for a game of darts or pool up a short flight of stairs to the dimly lit back room (billiards are free every Wednesday from 8pm to midnight!). The crowd is varied: groups of parents out on date night, college kids home on break, and anyone who appreciates a great dive bar. They order rounds of green tea shots, listen to live bands on the weekends, or gather up their courage and perform at open-mic night every Tuesday.
The only thing missing? Food. After 150 years, this Pearl River mainstay still doesn’t have a kitchen. And no one seems to mind.
Kennedy expanded the bar in 2012 — transforming what was once a next-door nail salon — but adding a kitchen wasn’t in his plans. His patrons weren’t looking for small plates or farm-to-table dinners. But, for those customers who maybe get a little hangry, Kennedy has a solution.
“We have kind of a Cheers-like relationship with Russo’s,” he says, indicating Russo’s House of Pizza around the corner from the bar.
So patrons hankering for a bite with their pint or in between games can order wings, sliders, and, of course, Russo’s excellent pizza (try the Pizza Rito, a rolled pizza stuffed with meatballs, pepperoni, and mozzarella sticks) and have it delivered to the bar — or simply head down the street and pick it up yourself.
Back at the hotel, there are ample tables for sharing slices, stories, and a bit of local history.
By Karen Croke
Photos by Keith Kennedy
The Pearl River Hotel
4 S. Main Street, Pearl River
Russo’s House of Pizza
8 E. Central Avenue, Pearl River