Rebels and Redcoats Tavern (1959-2018)
Backstory and Context
In 1959, Charlie Neighborgall opened Colonial Lanes, a large bowling center on the west side of Huntington. True to its name, Colonial Lanes was decorated in a Colonial theme, with features like brass chandeliers and an ornate carpet. Shortly after the bowling alley was built, Neighborgall added ten additional lanes as well as a connected beer tavern known as the Taproom. Initially, the Taproom served only the bowlers at Colonial Lanes. Its limited menu offered draft beer, sodas, crock cheese, and a popular corned beef sandwich with cream cheese and sweet onions.
In 1961, the state of West Virginia expanded the accessibility of alcoholic beverages by allowing “private clubs” to sell wine and liquor by-the-drink. In reality, these clubs could be any bar or restaurant, provided that they required customers to pay one dollar to become “members” with the purchase of their first drink. With the arrival of liquor-by-the-drink, Charlie Neighborgall and his business partner, Lloyd Frankel, decided to expand the Taproom into a full-service restaurant. When the restaurant received its liquor license in 1967, it officially reopened as Rebels and Redcoats Tavern. In 1969, it became a 4-star restaurant, and soon went on to become Huntington’s only 5-star restaurant. Rebels and Redcoats offered a large menu of upscale items such as prime rib, veal Oscar, and Welsh rabbit, along with hearty favorites like French onion soup, beef stew, and the corned beef sandwiches that were popular at the Taproom. The menu also featured an extensive and award-winning wine list.
Along with its gourmet menu and wine selection, Rebels and Redcoats was known for its intimate atmosphere. The restaurant’s interior was decorated in a Colonial theme, with rustic wooden booths, Blenko stained-glass windows, and a large wood-burning fireplace. Food was served on pewter plates, while drinks were poured into red glass goblets. Patrons could enjoy nightly live music, often filling the small dance floor on Friday and Saturday evenings. The music was typically a mix of dance music and show tunes, and the performers were personally auditioned by Frankel before being booked. With its lively but intimate atmosphere, and its unexpected location within a bowling alley, Rebels and Redcoats became a popular place for Huntington residents to celebrate special occasions and take out-of-town guests.
After Frankel passed away in 1986, management of the restaurant passed to Charlie’s son, Rob Neighborgall, and later to his daughter Amy Neighborgall-Fisher. In 2004, it was announced that Rebels and Redcoats was closing as a full-service restaurant and would return to its original role as a tavern. Instead of gourmet food and fine wines, it served drinks, appetizers, and other items from the Colonial Lanes grill. Colonial Lanes celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 2009. In June 2018, the bowling alley announced that it was closing down after almost sixty years in business.
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Casto, Jim. Huntington’s Favorite Former Eateries, Part 1, Huntington Quarterly. Spring 2011. Accessed June 17th 2020. https://huntingtonquarterly.com/2018/09/26/issue-73-famous-former-eateries/.
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