Elmtree turns 50 this weekend

Christopher
Christopher Gooding
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AMHERST – A lot has changed since Amherst’s first bar opened its doors fifty years ago on Victoria Street.

Elmtree Tavern patron ‘Alfie’ Farrell get just as excited about the Victoria Street business’ history as any other history enthusiasts. The business, which turns 50 this weekend, was original a car dealership before becoming Amherst’s first tavern.

Ron White’s father, Ron Sr., has held ownership of the Elmtree Tavern for twenty years and in that time White’s developed a historic appreciation for the family business that goes back to the very beginning – February 21, 1964.  

“I started working here about eight years ago but when I was a kid it was already a fixture in the community long before I got pulled into the family business,” the general manager said. “There’s a couple of funny things about this bar, like an old promotion they had – top of the line washing gear.”

In 1964, the Beatles were holding on to two chart-topping hits against the Beach Boys. The Winter Olympics were being held in Innsbruck, Austria and Chrysler was rolling out its second generation of the Hemi engine. Fittingly, the Elmtree was a car dealership and show room before it became the community tavern and automatic dishwashing was state of the art in the food and beverage industry.

Celebrating an automatic dishwasher, however, wasn’t the only thing patrons today would find strange.

“The policies back then were very, very funny. If you had a beer and wanted to move from your table over to another, you had to ask the bartender if he would take your drink from your table to the next,” White said. “You weren’t allowed to do it yourself. Could you imagine trying to do that today?”

The bar would also close down everyday at 5 p.m. for staff to go home and have supper, returning an hour later to reopen the tavern to the men-only crowd.

“Women weren’t allowed in back then,” White said. “It was a man’s bar only until years later.”

White couldn’t pin down when the policy changed, but it did and for the better. To celebrate fifty years in the business is drumming up some nostalgia this weekend beginning Friday, but the men-only policy is not one of them. In fact, there will be a Ladies Super Hour as part of the festivities. And lots of entertainment.

“We got a juke box and we’ll be running some oldies all day. There’ll be a fifty-fifty draw, all you can eat pancakes, all you can eat fish and chips. We’ll have trivia from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and a entertainment for both nights,” White said. 

 

Email: christopher.gooding@tc.tc

Twitter: ADNchris

Organizations: Beatles, Beach Boys

Geographic location: Innsbruck, Austria

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  • Doug
    February 22, 2014 - 12:41

    I thought it was a bowling ally one time