Tony's Tavern Celebrates 40 Years

Posted by Linton Lewis on 1st Apr 2022

Tony's Tavern Celebrates 40 Years

Tony’s Tavern Celebrates 40 Years!

One of Athens, Ohio’s mainstays has just celebrated a milestone, and we at Shop Athens Ohio wanted to give some deserved recognition. Tony’s Tavern, the beloved watering hole and home of the Hot Nut, has been in business for a whopping forty years, with its anniversary having just come as of March 29, 2022.

Let’s take a look at the bar’s history and more to fully celebrate the achievement of this favorite dive.

A History of Tony’s Tavern

The site of Tony’s Tavern, which resides at 7 W. State Street in Athens, dates back to 1829 when it was originally split in half to house two separate businesses. One half of the building contained a sundries store, while the other half featured a hardware store. Regular visitors of Tony’s will remember the pole in the center of the bar, which is in fact a remnant of this original divide.

Some decades later, a bar took up residence in the building under the name Mary Johnson’s Inn. The bar catered to nearby miners, opening early to facilitate those who were just getting off of their work shifts.

A New Era

After a major fire in 1977, the bar underwent renovations, eventually being bought by Tony Sylvester who dubbed it Tony’s. Sylvester continues to own and operate the bar to this day, and actually holds the distinction of longest-continuous bar owner in uptown Athens.

As reported by the Athens Messenger, when Tony’s opened in 1982, Ohio had three liquor license types. The first was for low “alcohol by weight” or ABW beer that was purchasable by anyone 18 and older, the second for ABW beer with a higher alcohol content purchasable by anyone 21 and older, and the third for liquors and wines.

Without a license for the lower-proof ABW beer initially, Tony’s had to cater to an older crowd – 21 and above – which meant making the bar a location for older students and townies. With The Union’s ownership in flux, and Swanky’s closed, Tony’s had a ready market available of older clientele, which helped establish it as a “townie bar,” a status it maintains today.

Since those early days, Tony’s has become one of the favorite hangouts for anyone wanting to get a break from loud and raucous college bars, offering a chill vibe, an intimate setting, live music, and the famed Hot Nut – a hot coffee and Frangelico liquor shot. These aspects, along with the vintage dart board and cozy booths, makes Tony’s one of the best places in Athens to spend with friends during a night out.

Tony’s Celebrates

In honor of their 40th anniversary, Tony’s celebrated the event with live music from East of Hedon, along with select beers being offered at 1982 prices.

In addition to this, a larger anniversary party is being planned for May, so if you love Tony’s and want to take part, keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates. You won’t want to miss out!

Stock Up on Tony’s Gear

As a proud partner of Tony’s Tavern, we at Shop Athens Ohio supply a range of merch to make sure you can find just what you’re looking for. Our Tony’s Tavern products include:

  • Hot Nut shot glasses
  • Tony’s shot glasses
  • Tony’s pint glasses
  • Tony’s skull logo T-shirts
  • Tony’s skull logo long-sleeved T-shirts
  • Tony’s skull logo hoodies
  • Tony’s skull logo crewneck sweatshirts
  • Hot Nut T-shirts
  • Hot Nut hoodies
  • Tony’s hats
  • Tony’s mugs

  • Be sure to reach out to us at [email protected] if you have any questions. We’d be happy to help!