Located in historic down-town Ellijay, The River Street Tavern is a small, intimate tavern that offers a family-friendly atmosphere which is loved by locals and visitors alike. With its exposed brick walls, twinkling lights, cozy bar and jovial atmosphere, The River Street Tavern has become one of the coolest places to hang out. Add in great food, award winning burgers, local craft beer, plus delicious handmade cocktails, and you will see why the tavern draws in customers near and far.
North Georgia was long settled by cultures of indigenous peoples and was known as part of the homeland of the historic Cherokee people. Ellijay (sometimes formerly spelled “Elejoy”) is the anglicized form or transliteration of the Cherokee name Elatseyi, meaning “new ground” or “green place.” Ellijay was a fairly isolated and remote mountain community until the Marietta and Northern Georgia Railroad (later the Louisville and Nashville Railroad) was constructed in 1884, stimulating a boom in the timber industry. While many buildings were timber, by 1900 the downtown square buildings were mostly brick, some of which are still standing, creating the beginnings of the small, quaint town that we know today.
The Start of a New Future
In 2009, 40 River Street became Jilly’s Pub and quickly became a local favorite where Heather Chastain worked as manager for three years. In 2012 Heather married Brad Simmons, who was a sergeant with the Gilmer County Fire Department and did double duty helping his father run Simmons Grading. Both Heather and Brad are long-time natives of Gilmer County with family ties going back multiple generations, so when Jilly’s Pub came up for sale they were poised to be the perfect new owners. Just two years after leaving the Pub the opportunity presented itself for Heather and Brad to purchase it, or as Brad refers to it as “buying Heather a job.” Heather thought he was crazy, but she had always had a secret desire to own the Pub, and they both agreed it would be a good investment for their future.
On May 1, 2014, the Simmons became the new owners of Jilly’s Pub. On New Year’s Eve 2014 they celebrated out with the old and in with the new and went forward with the name change to what is now known as River Street Tavern. Heather explains that, “Brad and I love our hometown of Ellijay and want to be a part of its growth. Nothing makes us happier than to see good things happen with our community. We welcome you to visit our Tavern and hope that you are made to feel at home here!”
How Do Those Dollar Bills Get on the Ceiling?
One of the many unique things about the Tavern are the dollar bills stuck to the ceiling. This feat is no easy task. Start with a dollar bill, a quarter and a thumb tack. The thumb tack is stuck into the center of the dollar bill, a quarter is placed on top of the thumb tack and the dollar bill is folded so it mimics a dart. Before you fold up the dollar bill, your server will mark the quarter for a free beer. Toss the dollar bill up, with the quarter giving enough weight to get it to the ceiling and push the thumb-tack in. The dollar bill will eventually relax, especially on high humidity days. Once it relaxes the quarter will fall out and whoever retrieves the quarter will receive a free beer. Sounds easy, no? Give it a try and see for yourself.
Award Winning Food & Local Brews
The River Street Tavern is well known for their award winning burgers and featured local brews. In 2016 The River Street All American Hamburger received the distinguished “100 Plates Local Loves” award by ExploreGeorgia.com. The Tavern won again in 2019 with their Wonton Burger, topped with tangy vinegar slaw, sweet yum-yum sauce, salty teriyaki sauce, and fried wontons for that extra crunch.
River Street Tavern has also been recognized as the best beer bar in Georgia in the Annual Great American Beer Bars competition conducted by CraftBeer.com, the Brewers Association’s website for beer lovers. CraftBeer.com readers were polled to determine the best beer bars in all 50 states and Washington D.C. “It’s a great honor to be recognized in the craft beer world. We could not have done this without our great staff and amazing customers. It’s our goal to provide great food paired with amazing craft beer and continue to grow in our great community.” said Brad.
Growing with the Community
While recognized for their burgers and craft beers, The River Street Tavern also serves amazing appetizers, wings, salads, and sandwiches. There’s something for just about everyone with a large menu, a kids menu and a wide selection of beer, wine, cider and mixed drinks! They also support the community by using as many local vendors as possible, including partners such as Bear Creek Cattle Company’s Beef and Ellijay Mushrooms. There’s beer and wine on the menu that was made right here in Georgia, some from breweries and vineyards within 20 miles!
Heather and Brad have about 30 employees, adding to the local economy. They’re open 6 days a week for lunch, dinner and evening get-togethers. And for those busy times they offer call ahead seating. Plus, The River Street Tavern now caters events! Whether a wedding, tail-gate party or family get-together, they offer food that will be enjoyed by all! Plated Service, Buffet Style Service or Station Service, and more are all possible.
A place this cool couldn’t happen without the support of their employee’s teamwork. We can’t make it without all of our employees’ but, the following people make it happen every day: Rob Hornbaker, General Manager; Kendra Schorr, Bar Manager; Jason Buckner, Kitchen Manager; Kaitlyn Graham, Assistant Kitchen Manager; Aubrey Miller, Front of House Lead; Allie Wilson, Front of House Lead; and Marshall Smith, Catering Manager.
Heather and Brad want you to know, “You’ll love our staff and our tavern! We may get a little busy during peak times, but we work hard to make sure we don’t disappoint, and to make every experience a positive one. We welcome you to visit us and hope that you are made to feel right at home here.” ACLM
The River Street Tavern
40 River Street, Suite B
Ellijay, GA 30540
Hours: Sunday – Wednesday 11 am- 10 pm,
Friday – Saturday 11am -11pm.
River Street Tavern,
knows your name”
and you’ll feel right