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Career crossroads brings new Crossroads

December 10, 2006|by CANDICE BOSELY

When Dan Barnhart suddenly found himself in need of a job after the Eastalco plant in Frederick, Md., closed last December, he never envisioned his next career would consist of pouring drinks in a neighborhood bar.

It was a chance meeting that prompted him and his wife to buy what they turned in to Crossroads Bar and Grill on Madison Street in Hagerstown.

After Barnhart lost his job, he and his wife were considering buying and selling - or "flipping" - houses. Barnhart was looking at a house on Madison Avenue when a man sitting on the bar's steps next door started a conversation.

"If you want to buy something, buy this bar," recalled Marty Wollerd-Barnhart, Barnhart's wife of 18 years.

Barnhart, 59, walked through the bar and liked what he saw. He and his wife returned later that night and struck a deal within minutes to buy the building, he said.

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"We went to closing on May 29 and that night we tended bar," Wollerd-Barnhart said.

On Nov. 24, the couple received the go-ahead to open a kitchen and now are serving hamburgers, french fries, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers and other grill food.

The bar has two billiards leagues, one for 8-ball and one for 9-ball. Karaoke is held on Friday nights.

Live music also is performed.

Barnhart is in a band, named Crossroads, and over the years has spent a lot of time in bars, giving the couple an idea of the atmosphere they wanted to create inside.

Barnhart and his band try to perform at least twice a month. They play covers of country and, mostly, older rock songs.

"I know I'll always have a place to play," said Barnhart, a former Navy SEAL for eight years.

'Like coming to a party'

The building that houses the bar is 96 years old, and the former owner seemed to focus much of his attention on three upstairs apartments, Wollerd-Barnhart said.

Family members pitched in with the renovation - Wollerd-Barnhart said her brother, Rick Wollerd, did a lot of the work, as did his 16-year-old daughter, Jazman.

"We thought we would turn this around, and that's what we did," Wollerd-Barnhart said. "We're working on it, anyway."

She said she enjoys her new job, after working for eight years with United Healthcare in Frederick.

"It's like coming to a party every day, literally," she said.

The couple takes steps to ensure the party remains fun for everyone. Someone who has had too much to drink is asked to go home, but invited to return the next night. The couple has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, all strangers are asked to show ID and the couple monitors how much a person has had to drink, they said.

Wollerd-Barnhart estimated that the bar has a core group of about 45 regulars, some of whom visit two or three times a week, and others who are there every day.

For that reason, the couple kept the bar open while renovating it, despite their earlier plan to close.

"We stayed open cause this is a neighborhood bar. They had nowhere to go," she said. "Everyone's been fantastic. They've supported us."

Before the couple bought it, the bar was named Pat and Dave's. It also was known for a time before that as The White Horse.

The bar, at 20 Madison Ave., is open from noon to midnight every day except Sunday.

Photo by Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

Dan Barnhart is the new owner of Crossroads Bar and Grill on Madison Street in Hagerstown.

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