Matt McFerron, formerly of Farm 255, has tended bar in New Orleans, Atlanta and Philadelphia since getting his start at the 40 Watt. Now he and fellow Farm-er Daniel Ray are settling down in Normaltown.
“Normal Bar has shown that Athenians are willing to embrace options outside of downtown, and we’d like to do our part by continuing to build that type of community,” McFerron says.
Named The Old Pal after the classic cocktail and as a nod to New Orleans locale Pal’s Lounge, the new bar will feature classic drinks and local craft brewers such as Terrapin and Wild Heaven, as well as others including Bell’s, Victory and Dogfish Head. McFerron and Ray also plan to incorporate seasonal ingredients into their housemade cocktail components like syrups, tonics and sodas.
The Old Pal will take over the space previously occupied by Jewels of Athens next door to Normal Hardware, with renovations beginning in two weeks pending Athens-Clarke County approval. Greg Evans of DraytonWorks will oversee the addition of indoor and outdoor seating, with the potential to add a kitchen in the future. McFerron also hopes to put the built-in fireplace to use this winter.
“We want to have the selection and service you’re more likely to find at a fine dining restaurant, but in a much more relaxed environment that’s easier on your wallet,” he says.
Buster’s Bitters, McFerron’s line of aromatics, will also have a place behind the bar.
“Buster himself—my dog—will make the occasional appearance as well,” he says. “In all seriousness, Daniel and I are both proud dog owners and encourage fellow dog lovers to stop by with their pups and say ‘hello.’”