the wonder bar
Name of Club: The Wonder Bar
Name of Event: "Yappy Hour"
Location: Asbury Park, N.J.
Square Footage: 3,000
Open Date: May 1, 1974
The Wonder Bar, located across the boardwalk in musically historic Asbury Park, N.J., has a reputation as a gathering place for famous local legends like Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Steve Forbert, Lance Larson and so many others. It is not, however; the only reason this nearly forty year old watering hole is so popular on the Jersey Shore. This place has become celebrated for going to the dogs, literally. No offense to Bruce and Jon, but every Thursday throngs of dogs escorted by their beloved human parents take over the Wonder Bar's outside deck for what is widely known as “Yappy Hour.”
Somewhere starting around 5 p.m., Ocean Avenue becomes filled with dogs excitedly coming from every direction obviously anxious to get to their familiar destination. Walls and fences are adorned with giant pictures and murals of the actual canine guests that frequent the joint. Debbie Delisa, the bar’s general manager, acts as ambassador as well as disciplinarian. There is also a dog run, which also serves as the “time out” pen when necessary. All around the yard is specially hired “doggie security” who makes sure all are playing nicely and all areas are cleaned at all times. There is sand strewn with lounge chairs, which is seating for both pet and parent. What sets this night and space apart from all others is that dogs and humans are equals. Debbie often measures the success of every Thursday based not on how many people attended, but how many beagles were there. The pet-loving staff is specially trained by the general manager to be attentive to a thirsty animal as well as its owner. While the dogs are limited to water and doggie treats, the options for mom and dad are much more plentiful. The drink of the day is Cherry Pepsi, a delicious mix of Red Stag and soda. Another choice is the aptly named Wonder Punch, a combination of six different Cruzan Rum varieties along with cranberry and pineapple juices. This popular elixir is served in a bucket, and is more than enough for two to share. For the beer drinker, the flavor of the day is Yuengling which is appropriately depicted in one of the outside murals with of course, dogs playing poker. All of the above mentioned beverages range in price from $3 for a beer to $10 for the ever popular bucket.
The success of this night is obvious in both the happy families who leave, and the nightly receipts. Yappy Hour is the biggest night of the week and in 2011 produced over thirty percent of the gross weekly income. Maybe one of these Thursdays, Bruce or Nils will show up with one of their beloved pets. Anything can happen; after all it is the Wonder Bar.