Cheers to one-year: The Coal Yard celebrates one-year anniversary

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Coal Yard in Old Town Helena is celebrating its one-year anniversary since opening in March 2015. (File)

The Coal Yard in Old Town Helena is celebrating its one-year anniversary since opening in March 2015. (File)

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–The Coal Yard Bar and Grill in Old Town Helena has successfully made it through an entire calendar year of being in business and so far so good is the general consensus from restaurant owner Jeff Oetting.

The restaurant, which opened in March 2015, prides itself on its upscale casual food menu, one-of-a-kind bar featuring a variety of wine, spirits and domestic and local craft beer, live music and overall atmosphere.

After a year of working out kinks, gaining a steady customer base, expanding and trying new menu items and hosting a variety of events, the restaurant is ready to take the next step.

“We’ve settled down to a number of regulars who we see almost every night,” said Oetting. “It’s nice because we’re now seeing familiar faces but because of word of mouth we’re now starting to see people who are coming in from Mountain Brook, Vestavia and other areas that we really haven’t seen before. A lot of that is because of the events we’ve done.”

When The Coal Yard originally opened, the restaurant’s hours were 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight.

As the months went by, the restaurant expanded to offer lunch specials from Tuesday-Saturday and beginning Sunday, April 3, the restaurant will begin offering a jazz brunch every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Aside from the weekend, another popular night for The Coal Yard is Tuesday nights where the restaurant offers tacos and trivia.

It’s been events like trivia that Oetting believes has been successful and wants to continue doing in the future.

“We want to expand things on the deck and we’re going to do a cigar under the stars night and do whiskey samplings and cigars,” said Oetting. “We want to try to do things that are event oriented. We’ve done a lot of the wine tastings and we’ve done a number of events with our brewery partners and that’s what we want to expand this year. To have specific events that are one-off and sort of fun, that somebody can come in on a weeknight and it’s something that’s a little bit different.”

Another aspect of The Coal Yard that might get overlooked is the amount of live music and entertainment the restaurant provides to customers on a frequent basis.

Oetting said the restaurant will always try and mix up the music and bands who play to satisfy customers with different tastes.

“We’re expanding our music to try to find even more unique acts,” said Oetting. “The thing that’s been really gratifying to us is that a lot of the people in music are starting to come to us. We’ve been bombarded by a lot of the music acts that now want to come play. Our goal is to try to really mix up the music. I don’t want to be known for country or blues or jazz. Every night we try to mix it up.”

When asked what his favorite part was about having the restaurant and reflecting on one year of being in Old Town Helena, Oetting said it’s the relationships.

“My favorite part has been developing relationships with our regular customers,” said Oetting. “We’ve got customers who come in every week and they’ve sort of become family. We’ve had a customer who built us a little register for the front and he’s a woodworker and wanted to do that. We see them all the time and that was the goal in the very beginning was to make this sort of a ‘Cheers’ situation.”

The Coal Yard is located at 4085 Helena Road. For more information, visit