Bobby’s Lounge

The quintessential neighborhood bar

Story and photos by Carey Vanderborg

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The door to Bobby's Lounge is always open.

There is no general understanding for what a bar is going to look or feel like if you’ve never been there. In fact, you pretty much have to be a regular—someone who can smell the place from a mile away and knows that they are close even if blindfolded, to even comprehend what kind of situation you’re about to put yourself into when you walk in.  Bobby’s Lounge in Plattsburgh not only embodies all of those characteristics, it prides itself on them.

Bobby Hall, an experienced and well respected bar owner in Plattsburgh, opened Bobby’s Lounge in 2002 after taking a hiatus from the hospitality business. The lounge, which is located at 5028 South Catherine St., keeps itself relevant in the city by offering a venue for customers to come and enjoy a drink while they play darts, shoot pool, or enjoy the company of the patron sitting next to them.

Plattsburgh is most notably a college town but Bobby’s is not a college bar. If you walk in there, you will very rarely see people under the age of 25. As Bobby explains to me “with all due respect,” they try to discourage college kids from coming into the bar and making it a hangout.

The dark truth to the college bar business is that most of the customers are often under age, but somehow make it past the doorman. It’s a catch-22; college bars need to make money, and the only way to do that is let as many people as possible through the door, even if they aren’t 21. Not Bobby’s though. They do not want the aggravation and will not tolerate it.

To keep up with their local and upper-aged clientele, Bobby’s hosts dart leagues in the winter and horseshoe leagues for men and women in the summer. They also host birthday parties, anniversaries, and holiday parties for local businesses.

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Friendly conversation between the bartender and customers is one of the many perks of going to Bobby's.

When I walked into Bobby’s, the bar had a rustic feel to it. I could tell that the place wasn’t new but it was definitely up to cleanliness standards, including the bathrooms. The smell of fried bar food was in the air, probably because the kitchen was busy cooking for the customers. Besides having a fully stocked bar, Bobby’s offers all the regular bar food favorites like wings, chicken fingers, jalapeño poppers, and exceptional burgers, all at reasonable prices.

When I approached the bar, I knew that I was in a place that had many local regular customers because the bartender knew everybody by name. Even though I wasn’t a regular, I wasn’t ignored. In fact I got my drink almost 45 seconds after sitting down which made me feel pretty comfortable in a place that I had only been in for a couple of minutes.

That bar itself has a cushion border so that people can rest their elbows, which is always a plus in my book. There is also a foot bar to rest your feet on so they don’t dangle and go numb after five minutes. There is no smoking in Bobby’s, but in the back of the bar there is an outdoor porch area where customers can go and get their tobacco fix.

With the occasional regular having to be carried out once or twice, the staff at Bobby’s isn’t afraid to get their hands dirty and help a guy or girl home. Aside from serving drinks and providing friendly conversation, that is what they are there for and that is what they will do if they have to. With that being said, if you go there on a Saturday afternoon, the bar will probably be filled with people who drove, but at the same time it will be filled with people who are smart enough to not drink and drive.

Bobby’s, along with one or two other bars in Plattsburgh, fits the description of a home away from home for their regular customers. Being one of the few places to drink in Plattsburgh that isn’t downtown, they literally separate themselves from the other bars, and offer good drinks, good food, and good company.

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Regulars love Bobby's Lounge.

Even during the rough state of the present economy, Bobby’s has held up very well. With the occasional small business in Plattsburgh—businesses that might have at one time had their holiday party at Bobby’s—shutting down, the local lounge has still been able to weather the storm. After all, when people do get laid off, or have family or marital problems, the first place they often go is the bar. But the majority of Bobby’s customers are all either retired or still working. Walking in, you might see local prison guards, state police, city police, teachers, or college professors, all with their wives and girlfriends. And they’re all having a great time.

The neighborhood bar is a dying breed. In Plattsburgh especially, most of them are disappearing one by one. And one reason for that is because the price of alcohol has gone up. Bobby explains to me that they have taken some awful jumps in beer prices in the last two years. But as long there are places like Bobby’s within walking distance of homes and apartments, I think this neighborhood bar will always be around.

APN gives Bobby's Lounge


What bar in your town reminds you of Bobby's?

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