Almost four years ago I wrote the first story about Bobby Ray’s Tavern coming to Mount Ephraim at the site of the former Giuseppe’s restaurant. Today at 11 AM, Bobby finally got to open his Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Tavern.
I stopped in today ahead of the opening… helped out a little bit with some of the final setup details and was there to see the first beer poured. Very quickly dozens of eagerly awaiting customers made themselves at home in a place that already feels like “this is our spot”.
If you don’t know the “Bobby Ray’s” name.. he and his family already operate a successful bar/restaurant in Pennsauken, and he wanted to bring his winning formula to Mt Ephraim.
Needless to say Bobby and the staff who worked so hard to bring this dream together… are elated that they can finally start pouring beers and serving amazing Bobby Ray’s food to the residents of Mount Ephraim and beyond.
It’s a unique story because what started out initially as a simple refresh of the much smaller Giuseppe’s bar building, turned into basically a full tear down of that space and a rebuilding into something that is just so much more than anyone could have envisioned for the property.
And honestly now that I’ve seen the Black Horse Tavern in it’s final form… the wait was well worth it.
When you visit the Black Horse Tavern I think you’ll be amazed about what you see…. A large main bar in an expansive vaulted space plus multiple alcoves of seating for more quieter dining options.
Plus a variety of outdoor options.
As I found out today when I hung out a little longer to enjoy lunch, it’s very possible that you could be visiting Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Tavern for a significant amount of time and not even realize there’s an entire second large bar outside on the far end!
The large outside patio itself offers multiple spaces… somewhat with a center divider which separates the patio area off of the main bar from another section which has its own full outdoor bar area and seating,
Simply I think most bar owners would open first with something smaller and gradually over the years grow into a bigger experience (as Bobby did in Pennsauken)… But for the Mount Ephraim location he decided to go all-in by investing the time (and money) into making the bar awesome from day one.
This took extra upfront development time, and added to the growing eagerness from everyone to get the place open… not only for Bobby and his family, but also with locals who just couldn’t wait to get inside and experience what Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Pike Tavern has to offer
In fact for today’s grand opening, a couple of guys I recognized from my hometown Bellmawr were in the parking lot an hour before the opening doing their own tailgate experience… excited to be one of the first customers to experience what Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Tavern has to offer.
I’ve been following along and visiting the bar several dozen times including just a few weeks ago, and yet still I was surprised by the final design
While I don’t usually blend other businesses into a “grand opening” article.. I would say that Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Tavern clearly fits into the larger local tavern domain… along with bars such as Dominic’s Bellmawr or Skeeters in Blackwood.
And let me just add in here… as expected the kitchen is all new and the food is amazing! I had “The Jacoby” chicken sandwich and the new friends seated near me went with the double smashed burgers, chicken tenders, wings and more!
Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Tavern – Mount Ephraim
The centerpiece of Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Tavern is the large atrium styled room which features a center rectangular bar seating about 50 people. There is enough room for high-top tables to be placed around the perimeter of the space.
The decor through out the building interior is a rustic wood cabin design. Rougher knotty wood pieces stained a medium brown. Rustic but not overpowering.
But again, factoring in all of the windows and the high ceiling it feels very bright, actually.
This main bar area offers numerous televisions including a signature elevated TV wall featuring six televisions in a three by two grid. They can be configured to show individual channels… or one massive view of the evening’s top game.
The space is very open but yet the acoustics seemed awesome… with no hint of echo from the high ceiling.
This bar space alone would be impressive enough. But that wasn’t enough for Bobby.
Leading off of that large main bar area are several different dining options… alcoves of seating.
Sure if you want to be in the center of the action, then grab a seat at the bar or one of the side tables.
If you want to hear what’s going on in the bar area but not be right in the middle of it, there’s a large open dining area off to the side at the back… seating about 40 people comfortably, which would be perfect for you.
Then along the front of the bar at the Black Horse Pike, there are additional rows of tables along the front windows…but spaced further back from the bar.
And yet still there is another more isolated dining area along the front of the building but much further from the bar area, which while today for the opening it was not fully outfitted with tables and chairs… when finished it should provide a much quieter area for dining or even hosting a private event.
Ok, ok… enough already!. That sounds amazing! A large open bar area perfect for hanging out with friends and enjoying the latest sports events variety of add-on dining options.
A place that you can hang with your buddies, a quiet date, or even to bring Mom to celebrate her birthday!
Damn that sounds like a lot! But guys that isn’t all of it.
Somehow Bobby also found a place for a large back patio area… which depending on your perspective actually counts as… two large back patio areas.
First, from that main bar area, in the back are large sliders which open up to an outdoor patio which will be outfitted with high top bar tables, such as those classic Red Bull tables.
This is a large outdoor space on it’s own but there is a lot more out here!
A partial divider wall comes out of the back-center of the building (steps to the basement), and if you walk around that patio divider, you see that it extends around to the other side of the building….
… which is another large outdoor seating and dining area!
The big surprise is you’ll find another bar… a fully covered outdoor bar!
This outdoor bar area seats another 30 people or so in a classic ”why mess with what works” rectangular configuration.
There’s just a lot of interesting spaces and designs at Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Tavern.
Not to confuse.. the entire place is a larger new bar but not massive… it’s just that Bobby and his team grew into this configuration which in a still somewhat limited space provides a variety of different bar, dining, and patio experiences.
And then you think back to what Giuseppe’s was and wonder… how the hell did he come up with this?
Honestly I’m not even sure Bobby knows
Honestly I have met up with Bobby and visited his Mount Ephraim bar probably 20 times or more since that first article back in 2019. Most times I was just happy to catch up with him and see how things were going, and I never wrote anything.
Originally the plans for Bobby Ray’s in Mount Ephraim were thought to be a minor remodeling of the old Giuseppe’s building
But like one of those cable home rebuilding shows where when the host starts opening up the walls and finds unwanted surprises… Bobby soon realized that the old original building would not support his full plans for the bar and property.
Soon most of the Giuseppe’s building was gone, and a larger foundation was poured for an all new Bobby Ray’s Tavern
One story about the progression of plans for the bar, is that early on there was an adjacent small church-owned building directly next to his new tavern.
After a year or two in to the remodeling Bobby looked at his then smaller space coming together and it just felt like the kitchen would take up too much bar space… so he decided to purchase that building next door with thoughts of leaving it mostly as it was, but building the kitchen inside of it and connecting it to his new Tavern.
I wrote about these plans. I stopped in, heard the story.. and wrote it.
Then just a few days later I drive by and that entire church building is gone!
That fast Bobby had determined that the configuration of that building and the height differences just wasn’t going to work for him and he’d be better off building new and that space also.
Which fits into why the Black Horse Tavern is so awesome. Bobby put a lot of thought and detail into the place, and when things didn’t feel “just right” to him, he was wiling to put the time and effort into making changes…
And now today Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Tavern is an instant South Jersey Classic.
Bobby has shared with me how happy he is to be a part of the Mount Ephraim community, and he looks forward to being a positive addition to the town.
I thought i was going to stop in for 20 minutes to grab some photos, chat a bit and then leave.
Instead I moved some tables around, chatted with those tailgating Bellmawr guys for a bit.. and then of course found myself enjoying a couple Mango Carts, a delicious sandwich and some fun conversations with those Bellmawr guys and crew.
My 20 minutes turned into 3 hours. You’ll likely experience a similar effect.
Links and Location
Bobby Ray’s Black Horse Tavern – Mount Ephraim
13 S Black Horse Pike
Mount Ephraim, NJ
Bobby Ray’s Pennsauken Tavern
6324 Westfield Ave
Pennsauken, NJ 08110