Jolene Menhart has been bartending and managing bars for 20 years.
Now, she’s about to open a bar and restaurant of her own––– in a hotel.
“Well I more wanted the bar,” she said, adding she used to work in hotel bars. “I wanted to have my own place but we never had a permanent duty station.”
Menhart, who is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said she moved around a lot because her husband is in the Army. Now that he is retiring, they plan to live in Williamsburg permanently.
Jolene’s Bar & Grill, an American bistro-style restaurant, will serve “typical bar foods” from during normal business hours, which means no late night bar menu, Menhart notes.
“You want a meal, you don’t want an appetizer,” she said.
Inside the venue, customers can expected carpeting, upholstered booths that “feel like couches,” dining tables, high tops and nine TVs.
Menhart said the place reminds her of the TV show Cheers because of it’s old-school vibe.
“It’s an old bar,” Menhart said. “It has a 60s feel to it.”
While she has not yet decided on specific decor, she said she plans to add some military elements because she feels everybody has been affected by the military in some way.
Other plans for the restaurant include a complete NFL package in the fall, karaoke once a week and live bands showcasing local talent.
So why name the business after herself?
“Everybody knows my name,” she said. “They sing it to me everywhere I go.”
Menhart used to manage Bourbon Street Bar & Grill and worked as a bartender at Daddy O’s for a couple years.
If fact, she used to wait on her now business partner, Tom Hasselbacher, a retiree from Illinois who worked part-time for Colonial Williamsburg.
He moved to Williamsburg to take care of his grandson and while he has no restaurant experience except “eating,” he said plans to help out part-time.
“I think it will be a new spot for Williamsburg residents and tourists –– a good blend,” he said.
Another thing people associate with Menhart is her bright green jeep, something she said has caused her to lose all privacy.
When she drives around town, people text and call her asking if the green jeep they saw was her, she said. As a joke, she decided to incorporate the color into the bar’s black and bright green logo, so people could associate the color of the Jeep with the color of the sign.
Menhart said she wants customers to feel at home whether they are regulars or just passing through.
“What I want to bring is a taste of a hometown bar,” Menhart said. “It’s so nice to meet new people and new faces.”
“It is so cool to see how our community welcomes new people,” she added.
Jolene’s Bar & Grill, 3032 Richmond Road, at the Clarion Hotel Williamsburg, is opening in mid-March with a grand opening in April.
The restaurant hours will be Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Jolene’s is currently hiring waitstaff. Those interested can contact Jolene Menhart via the bar’s Facebook messenger or by sending her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, visit Jolene’s Facebook page.