By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
A new pub in Tarboro might not meet the eye of passersby on Main Street, but it will give them a reason to take the stairs down to the basement.
To get to The Underground Pub, just walk down the staircase by the sidewalk at the corner of Main and Church Street. The alley leading to the pub might bring to mind a railway station, and that’s exactly the idea.
“There is a subway stop in London that the signs and the colors replicate. It was previously called Gillespie Road,” said Jim Marrow, owner of the 101 E. Church St. property. “The color scheme just grabs you. It’s just cool. It seemed appropriate for an Underground.”
The maroon lettering on the wall is based on the original lettering of the Gillespie Road stop, said Susan Cloer, an art teacher at North East Carolina Prep, who created the murals in the pub. The railway stop is the stop for the Arsenal soccer team, which is “like the New York Yankees of Britain in terms of soccer,” Marrow said.
Adding to the ambiance of pub, a map of the London Underground (subway) on the wall, dark-colored furniture with dim lighting at each table, and a bar, the centerpiece of any pub.
“The whole concept of it is sort of a unique space,” said business manager Mary Haviland. “We’re happy to have it back in operation. It just compliments Tarboro.”
“This bar was so much fun when it first opened (as The Underground Pub years ago),” Marrow said. “It was a terrific asset to downtown Tarboro and it complimented the energy that is coming off of On the Square’s success. On the Square and this bar, I hope, will be mutually beneficial.”
As in traditional pub settings, the beers on tap are the focal point of bar. Domestic and foreign beers are on tap. Among the draft offerings are Duck Rabbit Amber from Duck Rabbit Brewing Company in Farmville and a Guinness Stout from Dublin. The pub also offers “the flight,” which is four samples of any draft beer. A different local offering is L.L. Draughn’s Fishing Creek Hard Cider.
“We do have fine liquors, but beer is our focus,” said Jon Mlyniec, lead bartender at the pub. He said the purpose of the craft beer offerings is to give patrons an “experience.”
“You’re having a complete experience versus just having a drink,” he said.
“Pub pots,” such as a pimento cheese spread or chicken salad with crackers or chips will be the pub’s fare for now. While the focus of the pub’s beverages and food will be quality, having a “good time” socializing and relaxing will part of the atmosphere, as well, Mlyniec said.
“It should be for the community, to have a place to meet and chat and share,” he said.
Cloer was one of the first to experience the pub, having a drink with Cyndi Bass, an RN at Vidant Edgecombe Hospital, at a private party Friday evening.
“I think there’s a lot of new professionals here, so this gives a place in town where you can hang out and not have to commute,” Cloer said. “It’s nice to feel a part of your town.”
“Hopefully it will be a place where professionals can just talk and get to know each other,” Bass said.
Haviland believes the pub will be one of the ingredients that brings the building at the corner of Church and Main Street “back to life.”
“Full circle in a year” is the term Haviland used to describe the building’s transition from nearly vacant to fully occupied at the residential level with 11 tenants and brimming with businesses, including Addie’s Main Street Café and FishTails Pet Shop. Marrow, for one, is happy to see the activity in the building that at one time was designed as the Church Street Hotel. As he says, “Every hotel has a bar.”
The Underground Pub’s hours of operation are Thursday through Sunday from 3 p.m. until.