Off the beaten path in the bustling down town of West Chester, is the beloved Jake’s Bar, serving their regulars and broke college students for over 75 years now.
Jake’s is a classic hole in the wall dive bar, a hole that everyone finds themselves in on multiple nights, possible days and mornings every week. Located among student housing on S. Matlack St. offering $1/12oz beers Monday through Saturday 8am till 2am. It is the only bar located on the South end of the borough, which is largely populated by WCU students living in off campus housing.
People clutter into this tiny space, with wallpapered neon beer signs, and a single TV broadcasting to the bar. With limited seating this doesn’t stop anyone from coming by and grabbing a drink from the bar. This small 60’ x 20’ room is filled with loud voices telling stories over the music from the jukebox in the back, shuffle board is being played, and beer is poured out at the bar from bartenders everyone comes to know and love.
When you walk into Jake’s Bar you are entering a no judgment zone. The attire that is worn by most customers are sweats, t-shirts and jeans. This isn’t the place where you need to dress to the nines to enter. “I have literally rolled out of bed and gone there in my pajamas”, said West Chester junior Mike Magee. Anyone and everyone 21 and older are welcome at Jake's, and that is what is so loved about it. “The atmosphere at Jake's is great, the music and the blue collard crowd is always enjoyable”, said West Chester junior Connor Quinn.
One of the few things in this tiny space is the shuffle board right when you walk in. The sandy table that is on the sidewall, with the chalkboard hanging near, keeping track of who is up next and who is winning or down on their luck. The regulars are always competitive over the game, and take it very seriously. “I have only seen this one guy lose once, and I swear he was ready to fight the guy who he lost to”, said junior Mike Magee.
Jake’s is a straightforward establishment, that doesn’t serve martinis or fruity shots. Unless requested that your shots be chilled, the liquor will be room temperature. The draft beer selection includes, Miller High Life, Miller Light, Bud Light, and Sierra Nevada. Along with the $1 beers, you can get a glass of wine for only $2, but your option doesn’t go beyond red or white. In addition Jake’s also has the cheapest six-packs to go.
Jake’s is one of the places where smoking is still permitted. There is still a cigarette machine, and lighters are for sale behind the bar. Anyone who comes in for a drink will leave smelling as if they had been bathing in smoke for the past three days. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they take care of everyone with their six packs to go. “I personally am not a fan of the smoking, that’s the only negative comment I have about Jakes”, said West Chester senior Dominic Loyle. “It’s a dive bar, what do you expect,” said West Chester junior Cody Biondi, but he did mention that a drunken shower before bed is a must after drinking at Jake's all night.
The only food provided at Jake's is snack food; customers are allowed to bring food into the bar from outside sources. Conveniently Riggtown Pizza is right next-door, and what goes better together than pizza and beer? On Friday and Saturday nights the corner in front of Jake’s and Riggtown are filled with people satisfying their drenches (drunk munchies) indulging on a couple of their favorite slices from Riggtown.
The crowd at Jake’s changes dramatically throughout the day, mornings you can see college students treating themselves to some beer, around rush hour the crowd is made up of older locals after their workday. Around 8:30 p.m., the clientele is back to a mostly college crowd.
Anyone who has ever gone into Jake’s Bar knows Dwayne, one of the few bartenders at Jake’s and a crowd favorite. “Dwayne is the man, best guy in town”, said senior Dominic Loyle. “Dwayne is one of the most grateful guys I have met, with every tip he gets he gives out a handshake and a sincere thank you,” said junior Mike Magee
Jake's Bar opened in 1938 by Jake Nastase and since then Jake’s has been a successful family-run bar. They are all about their customers, with all walks of life coming in and out of their door. The crowd is usually a mixture of regulars and college kids enjoying some oldies from the jukebox and dollar beers. “The jukebox is one of my favorite things about Jake's, it has some pool shooting, cig smoking, beer and whiskey drinking type of music,” said junior Connor Quinn.
Just like the sign outside its door the bar itself hasn’t changed much since it opened. The biggest change was in 2010, when beer went from fifty cents for 8oz of beer to their now $1 for 12oz. Fans of Jake’s return to this dive bar over their lifetimes for the nostalgia of their college or hometown bar.
Jake’s Bar isn’t just a destination for locals and college students; visitors to the town are automatically told they must check out Jake’s. More times or not they are buying one of the iconic four dollar T-shirts for sale, and just like the bar, the design hasn’t changed.
Every West Chester University student cannot wait until their 21st birthday, and the chance to finally purchase a Jake’s t-shirt of their own. Residents of the town proudly wear their Jake’s Bar t-shirt and the older the shirt the more respected you are. Wearing a Jake’s T-shirt anywhere in the country will often result in meeting other past patrons of the hole in the wall bar.Jake’s will always be a beloved part of the town of West Chester, PA. Whether you’re a regular, once in a while, or a WCU alumni with memories of their times, this bar will always be a hallowed place in West Chester. The relationships made in Jake’s with the help of some cold beer, and warm shots are unforgettable. The bar itself is where all walks of life are welcomed. You find your home away from home at Jake’s Bar.