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Villari’s By The Pike Laurel Springs is Closing.  New Owners A Well Known Name?

Villari’s By The Pike Laurel Springs is Closing.  New Owners A Well Known Name?
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After 26 years of service to loyal customers, Villari’s By The Pike in Laurel Springs has announced they are closing their doors with the last day of operation being Sunday July 7th

The local tavern is located on Stone Road, just a 1/2 block in from the White Horse Pike.

While the closing is definitely sad news, 42Freeway research indicates that this is likely a sale to a new bar owner…  a bar owner with significant experience in South Jersey!

Documents filed with Laurel Springs regarding the transfer of the liquor license, indicate the new owner to be from the same family as… The Golden Nugget Tavern in Berlin NJ!

I am also aware that the upcoming new owners have presented at the Laurel Springs Council Meeting regarding their purchase of Villari’s By The Pike.

Both Villari’s By The Pike and The Golden Nugget Tavern are known for their amazing wings, ice cold beer and a loyal following both locally and beyond. 

Each local tavern also features live local music, although the Golden Nugget Tavern is one of the area’s last remaining country music focused bars… which is an interesting twist because prior to Sal Villari taking over the Laurel Springs tavern in 1998, the bar operated for a short time prior as Gene’s Country Weasel.

Could the Golden Nugget be bringing Country Music back to Laurel Springs?  Only time will tell.

I’ve actually known about this for several weeks and I’ve stopped in at both bars multiple times recently (rough job) In hopes of catching up with the owners.  I’ve also messaged at Facebook… but likely they were under a non-disclosure agreement and I have yet to hear from them.

So not wanting to disrupt the locally owned businesses or their employees, I chose to “sit on the story” until some more official announcement was made (particularly regarding Villari’s closing)

There is no indication at this point if the Villari’s branding for Laurel Springs will change under new ownership, or if so.. what the new name will be.  The LLC company associated with the liquor license takeover is TN2…  could that be “The Nugget 2”?

The Golden Nugget Tavern in Berlin – The family appears to be taking over Villari’s By The Pike

I believe the Villari family also still owns the Franklinville location, but I am uncertain on its status.. it appears nothing has changed there.

This is the second big news for very small town Laurel Springs, as recently I reported that the popular Cafe on the DL (from Marlton) is opening their second location… on the White Horse Pike in Laurel Springs.

Villari’s Lakeside on Sicklerville Road is completely different ownership and unaffected by this closing/sale.

Villari’s By The Pike

Villari’s by the Pike was purchased by Sal Villari in 1998.

An advertisement in the Courier-Post that year states “Newest Hot Spot! Come Celebrate with Sal, Former Bartender from Shillig’s”  (Shillig’s was a large restaurant/bar in Runnemede, where it seems Sal previously worked)

As mentioned, for a few short years prior in the late 1990s the Laurel Springs tavern was known as Gene’s Country Weasel, where local celebrity Sally Star was a frequent patron.

And before that for several decades prior, the Laurel Springs tavern was known as the Red Keg Tavern.

Villari’s By The Pike

Early advertisements for Villari’s By The Pike (1998 into early 2000s) called the Laurel Springs hotspot a “Sportsbar and Nightclub” featuring live entertainment every weekend.

In those early years it seems The Charlie Gracie Trio was a popular entertainment option for Villari’s. Charlie was a Philadelphia performer who gained international fame in the 1950s…enough fame that his life was chronicled in a PBS-TV documentary. (wiki)

In 2000, Sal announced that he hired a longtime area restauranteur to manage the Laurel Springs location, and offered a menu which at the time featured veal dishes, chicken dishes, prime rib, seafood, pasta sandwiches and more.

I have been to Villari’s By The Pike many times since 2010 or so… including performing with a former band Night Prowler ten years ago!

Mark from 42Freeway… rocking it out with Night Prowler at Villari’s By The Pike in 2014!

My memories of Villari’s By The Pike are of it being a little less formal, as a beloved local tavern serving amazing sandwiches, cold beers, Philly sports on the televisions and local bands on the weekends.

When I stopped in last week for a delicious Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak, I was happy to see they had all newer large screen televisions in the bar area… perfect for watching the afternoon Phillies game that was on during my visit.

Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak, a top seller at Villari’s By The Pike

Sadly, at the end of 2017, Sal Villari passed away at the age of 62.

Sal’s obituary states he was a devoted man who would do anything for his family. The life of the party he would do anything to make people laugh and feel comfortable whenever he was around them. Kind-hearted and strong, he always put everyone before himself.

I never got to meet Sal, but absolutely sounds like a guy I wish I had gotten to know!

Now it seems a new chapter is starting for the Laurel Springs restaurant.. I’ll be back soon with more information on what’s to come.

Villari’s By The Pike

Links and Location

Villari’s By The Pike – Last Day July 7th, 2024
26 Stone Rd
Laurel Springs, NJ 08021