It's not unheard of for hardware stores in Vermont to offer food. Plainfield Hardware has a deli, and, in Cabot, Sarah's Country Diner offers breakfast and lunch at the back of Harry's Hardware. But a bar? Never seen ... until a month ago.
"We're the first [hardware store bar] in Vermont," said Bobby Searles, who, along with Harry's Hardware co-owners Johanna and Rory Thibault, began serving adult beverages at the shop in late July. This weekend, Team Harry's is throwing a block party to celebrate.
Now open Wednesday through Sunday, the bar serves Vermont brews on draft, along with bottles and cans and a handful of wines. Most Fridays, you can hear live music and get wings, pulled pork and the like thanks to Sarah's Diner, which prepares snacks for bartenders to dish in the evening.
Searles has owned neighboring Cabot Village Store for a decade. He bought the hardware store and its gas station about five years ago. "It [had been] closed for a year," Searles recalled, "and the town was a ghost town. Without gas in town, that's how villages die."
Last year, the Thibaults moved to town. They bought a half-stake in the hardware store and decided that a bar would enhance community life while helping the town capitalize on Cabot Creamery tourist traffic.
"One of the things we're absolutely trying to do is create a destination," Searles said. Of the creamery visitors who wander into the hardware store, he said, "none of them will buy a hammer." But, he added, "Every one of them will buy a beer."