Marietta’s new sports bar boasts some old character
Want to grab someone’s attention in a crowded bar?
Just yell out, “Hey there, gorgeous people!”
That’s how Wild Cherry’s Sports Bar bartender Patty gets customers to focus on her.
And it’s the kind of greeting that makes a customer feel right at home. At Wild Cherry’s, expect a bit of the unexpected, mixed with family tradition and attention to the past.
Marietta locals remember Wild Cherry’s as the site of the former Josephine’s Restaurant. The fine dining establishment had a great reputation and was well known for its cuisine, and when it closed permanently, the building sat boarded up, waiting for someone to bring it back to life.
New owners Nick Liazis and Andy Harmantzis have done just that. They have maintained the antique appeal of the old dining room, and also introduced the creature comforts of big TVs to satisfy people’s craving for sports.
At Wild Cherry’s, Liazis and Harmantzis deliberately maintained the feel of the old Josephine’s dining room — the impressive walls built in 1795 — with the modern trappings of a sports bar boasting nine big screen TVs.
Despite the blue-and-white paint job — Penn State colors — there are actually more Steelers fans than anything at Wild Cherry’s. Football is not the only sport to grace the screens. The much-heralded World Cup proved to be a popular event, bringing new customers into the fold. Soccer fever swept the nation, but for Liazis and Harmantzis, it’s something they have long been accustomed to, having grown up in a country where soccer is called “football.”
The owners have been working in the restaurant industry since they could walk, according to Harmantzis. They grew up together, two doors apart, in the old country — Greece. When he was 17, Harmantzis ran a restaurant with his father.
“My father worked in factories and knew nothing about running restaurants. He really depended on me to make it work,” Harmantzis says.
With a keen understanding of what it takes to thrive and survive in the food business, the owners have created their own niche in the historic bar landscape of Marietta. It’s their goal to refine the art of hospitality.
Having a hand in many well-known restaurants – including the Mount Joy Diner and the Keystone Restaurant (both in Mount Joy), as well as the former Bloomfield Square Restaurant in Lititz – the two are no strangers to the food industry. The large number of menu offerings, as well as the quality of the food, suggests that the duo know what they are doing.
Almost every beer in house, whether on draft or in bottles, is $5 or less. With many beers to choose from – like Victory DirtWolf, Yards Brawler, Tröeg’s Perpetual IPA and Dogfish Head – beer enthusiasts will not be disappointed. Drink specials, which are available from 9-10:30 p.m. every night of the week, include $2 domestic drafts, $2 well drinks, $2 shots, and $1 cherry bombs. There’s something for everyone, even if it’s a Miller Lite or Budweiser.
If you’re hungry and want something to munch on while you watch the game, there’s plenty to choose from. Wild Cherry’s jumbo wings, specialty burgers, quesadillas, panini sandwiches and Philly cheesesteaks are only a handful of what’s offered on the menu. Every night from 4:30-6:30 p.m., happy hour specials are offered, which include a dozen steamed clams for $4.99, six fried coconut shrimp for $4.99 and cheese fries for $3.99. You can eat and drink your fill, even if you’re on a budget. But if you’re willing to fork over $13.49, the “Punish Me Burger” – a pound of Black Angus beef layered with Monterey Jack and American cheeses, all topped with bacon and cole slaw – is worth every penny.
Most Marietta bars feature live music, but Wild Cherry’s features DJs rather than trying to compete with the local music scene. The house DJ calls himself Johnny Hollywood, and brings the dance party.
“We want people to have a good time,” says Harmantzis.
Wild Cherry’s isn’t there to compete with the other bars and restaurants in Marietta. Instead, the owners are trying to provide something different, making the bar scene in Marietta even more diverse. Liazis and Harmantzis have been feeding and entertaining people all of their lives, and they can’t wait for customers to come in, whether it’s for the burgers, the sports or just to relax and have a few drinks in good company.
• 324 West Market Street, Marietta; 604-1137
• Daily, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.