New neighborhood bar ‘Willows Tavern’ debuts in Ridgewood

Willows Tavern opens on Friday, Jan. 19. on Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood.
Photo by Anthony Medina

Excitement is brewing in Ridgewood as a brand-new neighborhood bar, Willows Tavern, opened its doors Jan. 19.

Located at 64-18 Fresh Pond Rd., this establishment promises to be a welcoming addition to the community.

Ridgewood residents can step into the charming world of Willows Tavern, where a diverse selection of affordable beers, ales and cocktails will be on offer throughout the night.

The co-owners, Cassie Bollas and Jesse Sullivan, are no strangers to the local bar scene. Their mission is clear: to seamlessly integrate into the fabric of the Ridgewood community and provide a comfortable gathering place for all.

“We want the neighborhood to feel welcome and feel like this is a place that they can call their second home,” Bollas said.

Inside Willows Tavern, patrons will be transported back in time to a 70s-inspired southwestern-themed bar. The warm ambiance, created by pendant and recessed lighting, enhances the beauty of the carefully wood-stained bar top and interior panels. The seating booths pay homage to Glenlo Tavern, the beloved former local hotspot.

The name “Willows” draws inspiration from the tavern’s backyard, where a majestic willow tree gracefully shades the outdoor space.

As the countdown to opening day ticks away, Bollas and Sullivan are hard at work, preparing for the big day. The engaged couple, with over a decade of experience in the bar business, have worked in various bars across Ridgewood, Queens, Brooklyn and beyond.

“We want to cater a little bit to everybody that works on Fresh Pond,” Sullivan explains.

Sullivan, originally from New Mexico, is also the owner and operator of the Windjammer Bar, located at 552 Grandview Ave., which has been a Ridgewood staple for nearly seven years.

Bollas currently manages Old Stanley’s Bar on 226 Wyckoff Ave. in Brooklyn, amassing a decade of bartending experience, including stints at popular Brooklyn bars like Skinny Dennis on 152 Metropolitan Ave.

“For me to finally own my own bar is like a dream,” says Bollas. “The people that are here know that we want everyone to be extra nice and kind and welcoming.”

Charles Watlington, also known as DJ Moonshine, is another key figure at Willows Tavern. Known for his Honky Tonkin’ nights at Gottscheer Hall, he’s expected to bring his unique vibe to Willows on occasion.

Additionally, Andrea (Dre) Donio, a friend of Bollas and Sullivan, is instrumental in the styling of the tavern. Her first plant delivery on Thursday marks the beginning of many green additions to the establishment.

Willows Tavern aims to bring some cherished traditions to the community, such as hosting Jeopardy nights at 7 p.m., among others that will be unveiled over time.

Inclusivity is also a priority for Willows, as they will offer non-alcoholic options and welcome furry friends, making it a dog-friendly venue. Doors will open every day at noon until 2 a.m., with Happy Hour going on from noon to 6 p.m.

Ridgewood residents can anticipate a warm and inviting experience at Willows Tavern, where old favorites meet exciting new beginnings. Join the celebration of this exciting addition to the neighborhood.