Spotlight On… The Local!
“Let’s pop down the local.”
Now… that’s not a thing you hear. At least, it’s not a thing you hear around here. But to Swindon, England native Callum Satchell, that’s a thing he heard people say all the time.
“In any town in England, if someone says, ‘Oh, where are you going tonight?’ ‘Just poppin’ down the local,’” he explains. “That’s the local pub in the town. We wanted to instill that in Mount Holly. What we really wanted to do was create something sourcing local products and goods, but we wanted to give it the warmth of what a local pub in England would be.”
And, with partner Derek Little, they’ve truly captured that. The Local in up-and-coming Mount Holly is warm and cozy, with the honey-colored bar taking up half of the width of the downstairs — with multiple local whiskeys, vodkas, and gins lining up the back wall and a “New Jersey Tap Takeover” happening every night of the week.
The two were familiar with Mount Holly, mainly because of the breweries that have popped up there in recent years. They’d checked out a few different spaces throughout New Jersey and PA, eventually learning that the former High Street Grill was available. They snatched it up.
“For ten years, they’d had a great beer reputation,” Derek says, “as far as any type of Belgians in the area.”
When they came to take a look at the space, they fell in love with the exposed brick, the hardwoods, the history, and the overall charm of the place. Originally constructed during the turn of the century, its old-world charisma made it an obvious choice.
It needed some work, but “it was a diamond in the rough,” Derek jokes.
And Mount Holly is definitely an area rising in its allure. The township has been putting a lot of money into the downtown, revitalizing it through restaurants, shops, breweries, and distilleries.
“Mount Holly is a decent little spot,” Callum says. “It needs a few more little businesses.”
“Some more restaurants would be cool,” Derek says. “I don’t really want the competition, but I kind of do, because I want to grow the town. There’s a great historical aspect, too.”
“There was a Revolutionary War battle here,” Callum says. “A lot of the buildings are really historical. And you can tell that walking through. I don’t like the word hipster, but it definitely has that kind of vibe to it,” Callum says.
Nonetheless, they’ve created a laid-back, “hipster Cheers” in the heart of Historic Mount Holly.
“We have a lot of regulars,” Derek says. “And a lot of people who are in the beverage industry. We have a lot of people who are brewers. We have a lot of people who are distillers. We have a lot of people who care about the actual product. We’re sort of creating our own little microcosm.”
“It’s definitely comfortable,” Callum says. “There’s nothing pretentious about this place. You could come in wearing shorts, t-shirt, and sandals, sit at the bar, and you’d fit right in.”
“It’s the culmination of many of the ideas we’ve had for a long time,” Derek says. “So often, working in places in Princeton especially during the early 2000s, everyone’s asking for a Grey Goose martini, and I’m thinking, ‘What the hell is that? Why can’t we distill vodka here in this country?’”
Turns out, you can. You can also distill gin and whiskey.
“The only thing that we don’t cover locally is tequila,” Derek says.
(South Jersey isn’t exactly prime agave territory.)
“We do source the only tequila that’s distilled within the United States,” Callum says, “but, obviously, the agave comes from somewhere else.”
And, going in they knew that New Jersey has phenomenal beer.
“Our craft beer selection, focusing on New Jersey brews, is sort of untouchable around here,” Callum says.
“Our imports are, like, a California beer,” Derek says.
They estimate that the tap list on their sixteen taps is between 80% and 90% New Jersey craft. They keep Miller and Yuengling on “to appease the masses — basically water and dark water” as well as offerings from one Jersey brewery and one Jersey cidery.
“The other twelve taps rotate through whatever we feel like bringing in,” Callum says, “which, more often than not, highlights Cape May, because it’s delicious.”
They report that a lot of our beers are really popular.
“It’s hard to nail that down because a lot of your beers are well-received,” Callum says.
“No bullshit,” Derek agrees.
“Always Ready, it was absurd how quickly that keg kicked,” Callum says. “We went through a half-keg in about three days. That’s saying something.”
“That Bog went crazy,” Derek says.
“Yeah, The Bog did really fly,” Callum agrees. “Devil’s Reach always goes down really well,”
“Concrete Ship was really good, too,” Derek says.
“That was really good,” Callum agrees.
“That’s what we mean,” Derek says. “We’ve gone through so many Cape Mays that were really good, it’s hard to pick one.”
“The Honey Porter on nitro, as well,” Callum says. “That’s really good, and I’ve got another one waiting downstairs, and that flies. And then I have Snag & Drop coming up, and I am personally obsessed with that beer. I am a hop freak, and that is just unapologetically hoppy, and I love it. It is so good.”
The Local has also made a name for themselves as a whiskey bar. In fact, they’ve signed a lease on the space next door to open a wine and whiskey lounge, planned for July, with an additional four beer taps. When we arrived, the guys were in a bourbon tasting, and NJ Monthly recently named The Local as one of the best whiskey bars in the state.
“We were the only one on the list to focus exclusively on American whiskeys,” Callum says. “From single malts, ryes, bourbons, you’re not going to find any Scotches on our shelves or any Irish stuff.”
Their focus on local beverages, they admit, is for a bit of an economic reason — the “best parts” of nationalism include keeping their hard-earned American dollar in America. But, there are other reasons, too.
“It’s really effing good,” Callum says. “From what we can source, not only in America, but in the tri-state area — New Jersey, PA, and New York — we can get everything. We already have ridiculous beer. We’re extremely lucky with great New Jersey beer, now the spirits are coming out with the distilleries, and then, obviously, New Jersey has incredible produce. PA has great livestock. New York, we get great honey and grade-A maple syrup.”
And in Mount Holly, they’re right in the middle of all of it.
Michael Carco, a graduate of CIA, also worked at the Peacock Inn in Princeton and under Bill Telepan at his eponymous restaurant in the Upper West Side.
“His skills are incredible,” Callum says.
“We’re kind of forcing him to dumb it down,” Derek jokes.
Regardless of his high-falutin’ pedigree, Carco’s own tastes lean more toward pork bellies and ramen — perfect for bar eats.
“It’s great for us because he’s able to put out a product that’s incredibly prepared, but it’s not so pretentious that it’s unapproachable,” Callum says. “It’s food for the everyday man, cooked for the fine dining palate.”
For two guys from Princeton, this was a match made in heaven. The concept behind the restaurant was to focus on quality ingredients and top-notch food but without the pretension that may accompany such things, particularly in an Ivy League town like Princeton.
“I’m all about quality ingredients,” Derek says. “I’m all about not cutting corners. I’m all about having the finest you can make. But I’m not all about whacking you for a million dollars for it. I’m not all about…”
“…putting some moss on the side of it and putting some liquid nitrogen…” Callum interjects.
And they nail it. The menu is small but mighty. A simple, one-page deal that rotates seasonally, the focus is certainly on comfort food, entirely split between starters and burgers and sandwiches. The kitchen, open as late as 11:30 on weekends, makes nearly everything from scratch.
“We do sell an outrageous number of burgers here,” he says. “Our burgers are pretty phenomenal.”
The Local Burger — a custom-blend ground patty, aged cheddar cheese, “deliciously crisp” bacon, Local sauce, and a fried egg — is one of their big sellers.
“So you get that gooey yolk running down, mixing with the bacon,” Callum says. “It’s at least a five-napkin burger.”
For their mozzarella sticks — which are more like mozzarella rafts — they make their own cheese in-house. Believe it or not, making mozzarella isn’t terribly difficult.
“We buy the curds and — I don’t know why more places don’t do this — we take the curds and add it to hot water and salt, and you just knead it,” Callum explains. “You work it and you mold it and you have this beautiful, fresh, warm ball of mozzarella. If you can get the curds, it’s not difficult at all.”
Most places, when you get mozzarella sticks, you’re getting batter-dipped Polly-O String Cheese. Not at The Local. You’re getting cheese to which your Italian grandmother would give a slow nod before yelling “mangia!”
Every other Wednesday, The Local hosts an Open Mic Night, hosted by Champagne Bobby. Generally, they host live music every other Thursday. Their Whiskey Wednesdays will return once they get the whiskey and wine lounge open. Something to look forward to!
“We’re hoping that The Local is going to be a mainstay for years to come,” Derek says. “We try to take care of people.”
“And Mount Holly is becoming a really vibrant, downtown scene,” Callum says.
It’s definitely true. With the number of breweries and distilleries opening in the area, it’s truly becoming a beverage destination. The town has been pouring money into revitalizing the downtown, and a swath of younger people have been able to find affordable digs nearby.
And The Local is in the heart of it all.
As the weather turns warmer, it’s becoming prime strolling season. And Mount Holly is prime strolling territory.
Stop by 64 High Street, grab a burger and some mozzarella sticks, and kick back some Cape May brews. You’ll be glad you did.