Wednesday, July 18, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour:
Rick’s Restaurant and Pub, Willsboro

Located in what we call an “Adirondack plaza”, but known as the Willsborough Business Center, Rick’s Restaurant and Pub is unique in more than its location. Our definition of an Adirondack plaza, and we have encountered several of these business centers in our travels in the Park, is a building that houses multiple businesses but not all are accessed directly from the curb.

The Willsborough Business Center is home to a pharmacy, a bowling alley, a hair salon, several engineering and technology businesses, a bakery and, of course, Rick’s Restaurant and Pub. Enter through the business entrance and it’s one of the doors on the right. There are no windows in the doors, so you may find yourself entering tentatively, hoping you’re in the right place.

Rick’s is like a country diner with a bar, a concept long past due. The door opens into the restaurant, but the bar, easily discernible toward the back, accommodates about eight people. Another counter seats at least four on each side, and a few pub tables on the wall between the bar and restaurant serve those who just can’t decide which room they want to be in. No matter where you choose to sit, the tidy charm of the pine log and cool green interior immediately make you feel at home. A mural covers an entire wall – a pastoral scene depicting deer in a wooded countryside. Rustic style light fixtures provide an Adirondack embellishment, while black-eyed Susans cool their toes and peek over the lip of a vase on the bar.

We found the owner, Rick Sayward, behind the bar serving beer, wine, and a hearty dose of quips and smiles. Amiable and garrulous, Rick’s cheerful presence and his obvious pleasure and pride in his pub are the main attraction. His comfort with patrons, new and old, makes each visitor feel like an invited guest.

Rick and his wife Sarah have lived in Willsboro most of their lives. When he retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1986, his dream was to one day open a hot dog stand. He did just that in 2004. In 2007, Rick’s Restaurant & Pub moved to its current location on Route 22 with an expanded menu, an Adirondack country interior, and a nod to local history with historic photographs of the local pulp mill embedded in the bar. Rick’s family has been in Willsboro for many generations and his great, great, great grandfather owned the first mill built there.

Though Rick’s doesn’t serve liquor, they offer flavored malts in bottles and even a selection of pre-packaged Seagram’s frozen cocktails including margarita, pina colada, daiquiri and sangria, with a modest selection of good draft beers and at least 15 bottled. In true noncompetitive Adirondack plaza form, the bowling alley serves liquor, but not food. Rick’s serves food, but not liquor, so patrons are free to meander from one to the other, and can stop off and use the shared restrooms in between.

Happy Hour is observed from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily and all day on Sunday, featuring a 16 oz. draft for $1.95. Particular loyalty is paid to veterans of the armed services, who are eligible to apply for Rick’s veteran’s appreciation card and enjoy special pricing on all food and drinks, all the time. A believer in giving back to those who serve, Rick’s keeps a donation jar on the bar for the Combat Vets Association, and is the major sponsor of an annual golf tournament benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project, to be held this year on July 28 at the Willsboro Golf Course.

Open seven days a week in the summer, and closed on Monday in the winter, Rick’s is open from 11:30 a.m. They close for Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas. Rick’s Restaurant and Pub serves a menu of American cuisine, pub fare, fresh cut steaks, seafood, and sandwiches of fresh turkey, roast beef and ham. True to his hot dog stand roots, Rick proudly serves two homemade Michigan sauces for his hot dogs. Top off your meal with one of Sarah’s homemade pies and desserts.

Entertainment at Rick’s includes two TVs, Quick Draw, and the occasional hosting of the Vermont Comedy Club every few months throughout the year, sometimes as a dinner-and-a-show special. An open mic night Rick bills as “Redneck Comedy” is quite popular in Willsboro, giving the locals an opportunity to take jabs at one another, all in good fun, though we suspect you may have to be a local yourself in order to understand some of the inside jokes.

Feeling much like a neighborhood corner bar, Rick’s Restaurant and Pub is a quiet little piece of home, offering good food and drink at very reasonable prices. With a hometown disposition and a community spirit, its country charm, with the help of the character behind the bar, welcomes and invites you to stick around for a bit.

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In 2013, sisters Kim and Pam Ladd self-published Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide and a companion Happy Hour Trail Passport. As they continue to market and distribute their current book, they are back on the trail doing research for their next project – a guide to breweries, wineries and distilleries in and around the Adirondack Park.

In 2014 they created their own drinking event, a bartender competition they call “BARRED!”, which they expect will become an annual event held in the early spring in collaboration with Basil & Wick’s in North Creek.

With the lofty goal of becoming the Adirondack "Drinking Authority," Kim and Pam report on drinking-related topics and events inside the Blue Line here at the Almanack and at their own blog. You can also visit their website, follow them on Facebook, and Twitter.

The pair have spent most of their lives in Warren County. Pam has a degree in Computer Science, but her passion is mixology. She and her family live in Warrensburg. Kim is a freelance photographer with a degree in Advertising Design and lives in Thurman with her husband.





One Response

  1. T.Barber says:

    Nice job on the Rick’s review. My family agrees and enjoys a visit whenever we get to Willsboro. The Saywards are very accommodating and serve the best of hospitality, good food, and drinks to a thankful community!