Summits Wayside Tavern
Not just a beer joint, Summits is a spot where everyone knows your name.
Tucked away in a strip of shops on Highway 78 in Snellville might be the best-kept secret for community togetherness in town: Summits Wayside Tavern. Founded by one of the original partners of Taco Mac, this location has been open since 1998.
Don't let the unassuming looks and loud music piping outside fool you. It's NOT a wild or mismanaged spot. It is, however, a place to relax, eat a meal or have a beer. Meet friends to watch your favorite sports event – and no matter what it is, they've got it covered with about 30 televisions – all big enough to see from many vantage points. Football, both pro and college, along with hunting, soccer and many other sports play as folks talk and eat and drink.
It is the kind of place where you can feel OK to yell out something, whether your team does good or bad. Yet, it is not a bar brawl kind of place. It's more like a family kind of place and everyone knows everyone else – by name.
In fact, the manager, Kevin Southern, has been working with the local Summits chain for about 17 years, the last five here in Snellville.
"The customers here make it worth coming in," says Southern. "I feel comfortable and get to meet people from all walks of life every day." He says that the restaurant/bar can change personalities, too. "Sometimes, it's a sports bar. Sometimes, it's a family restaurant … it all depends on the crowd."
And it does attract a crowd.
Mike "Tiny" McClannan, 44, says that he likes Southern and his staff. "I come in at least once, sometimes three times a week," he explains. "I just stop by on my way home from work." McClannan is a part of the Passport Club that Summits promotes, and so are most of his friends there.
The Passport Club is great for anyone who loves and respects beer. Here's how it works:
For Tier I: Drink 100 different beers from the extensive, ever-changing draft list to get a personalized beer mug and a Summits T-shirt. There is a $2 registration fee, but 100 percent of that is donated to Habitat for Humanity.
Tier II: Drink 250 different beers and get a personalized beer goblet and a sweatshirt.
Tier III: 500 beers get you the personalized beer stein and a windbreaker.
And, because Summits has a reputation for its beer selection, getting those rewards is easy for a beer drinker. With an ever-changing draft list (by at least one or two beers a week) that has spouts that literally line a whole wall of the bar, it's easy to try a different beer or two with each visit. McClannan has tried, by his count, "somewhere between 1,600 and 1,700 beers" garnering him the coveted beer stein as his reward, which he earned at beer 500.
His friend, Joe Stansbury, is a Lilburn resident who has earned the goblet, having tried around 406 beers. He, too, loves Summits.
"These people here know my whole family," he says. "My hand gets shaken every time I walk in." Stansbury says. He likes the neighborhood feel, "kind of like the 'Cheers' of Snellville," he adds.
At the age of 61, Ron Lavarnway comes in about three times a week, usually. He considers Summits to be a family kind of place, having brought his daughters in when they were six or seven years old. He says they're in their 20s now, and the whole family comes in together, with the girls even bringing dates here. "It's nice to have a place like this here in Snellville," he says.
The menu has everything you might ever want. Hot wings, burgers, sandwiches, noodle and rice bowls, salads, fajitas, flat-bread pizzas and desserts. It is not one of those places where, when you order onion rings, you get three or four. You get enough to share.
For the past 15 years, Toby Moore has shared beer and food here with other patrons, too. He proudly wears a Summits Wayside Tavern sweatshirt while sitting at the bar with his friends. He says that Summits is more than it seems. "It's more than a beer snob bar," he says. "It's the closest thing to a real community tavern that this area has." He goes on to say that you can go elsewhere cheaper, of course. "But, here there is feeling of it being more of a family place than just any old restaurant or bar."
Summits Wayside Tavern®
3334 Stone Mtn. Hwy. (Hwy 78)
Snellville, GA 30078
Hours at this location:
Monday through Saturday - 11 a.m. till 2 a.m.
Sunday - 11 a.m. till midnight