Newport's Jerry's Jug House is getting new life thanks to co-owners Stuart MacKenzie, of the Northside Yacht Club, and Mark Ramler, an award-winning preservationist and the owner of Mansion Hill Properties.
The duo is hosting a ribbon cutting for the renovated bar and package liquor store at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19 with funders The Catalytic Fund and remarks from Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso.
According to a press release, Jerry's Jug House started as a garage with ties to bootlegging during Prohibition but went legal the 1930s as a "jug house." Patrons could buy beer, liquor and wine to go at the jug house, which was adjacent to a neighborhood grocery store. MacKenzie and Ramler plan to continue this 80-year-old legacy, "while also providing a welcoming gathering place for the residents of Newport’s East Row neighborhood."
The goal of the renovation was to keep history intact but remodel what was unavoidable, according to Ramler.
“When we started construction, we were excited to find a bunch of old artifacts from the building’s storied past,” Ramler says. “We’ve tried to pay respect to the people and generations who kept this place alive by remodeling what was necessary like the plumbing, HVAC and electric. But we also kept as much of its historic fabric intact, including the large stainless steel walk-in, bar shelves and UK wallpaper.
"Most of our furnishings are vintage signs, photos, receipts, and even hats, some of which we inherited with the bar —including an original framed Newport Bartending ID of Jerald W. Bittner (the bar’s namesake) himself.”
MacKenzie is the mind behind the cocktail menu, incorporating flaked ice — “Think Frisch’s ice but with less air in it," he says — highballs and homemade ingredients. There will also be draft beer, so patrons can once again get beer to go in jugs like they did back in the day.
MacKenzie adds, "To the legendary Jerry’s regulars, yes, we will have a $3 domestic neighborhood draft special. We will also carry eight wines by-the-glass and many others to go; our focus is on natural and organic, but we have something for everyone — as long as it tastes good.”
Along with the updated cocktail selection, the Jug House also features two seating areas, an expanded bar, flat-screen TVs, garage-style doors to create an indoor-outdoor feel and a former back office has been transformed into a lounge.
Jerry’s Jug House is located at 414 E. Seventh St., Newport and will be open from 2 p.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-1 a.m. on Sundays.
*A previous version of this article listed the closing time as 1:30 a.m.