Food & DrinkFood Features

Angry Ales Remains One of Montford Drive’s Strongest Staples

Neighborhood bar looks back on 22 years of change

A view of the outside of Angry Ales bar on Montford Drive
Angry Ales has been in the Montford neighborhood for 22 years. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

​​Walking upon the creaky steps of the wooden patio, neon-red lights beam against the glass doors to a neighborhood’s favorite restaurant. A sign on the patio reads “Feelin’ Good as Hell,” a good description for the emotions emitting from the ironically named Angry Ales, a place many have called on for a sense of community over its last 22 years in business.

The neighborhood bar is a bit of a pioneer, as the street has been built up around it over the past two decades. From juicy, homemade burgers to huge cups of beer, Angry Ales has been a cornerstone for walkable nightlife on that cozy strip along Montford Drive — what began as a small cut-through from Park Road to Woodlawn Road has since been built up as its own nightlife district near the Park Road Shopping Center.

Alongside Moosehead Grill, which opened in 1997, Angry Ales has stood its ground amidst the inevitable change that happens within a growing city. Establishments have come and gone within the neighborhood — Good Food, Brazwell’s, Duckworth’s, Maverick Rock Taco, as well as Park Lanes turning into what Charlotteans now know as Bowlero.

“Montford is ever-evolving, for sure,” says Rich Henson, who’s managed Angry Ales for the last 15 years. “There have been places that were torn down, and there have been places that have changed ownership and name several times. Of course, COVID changed everything. But I think the street has evolved and will continue to be a hub of entertainment and restaurants where people can go and hang out.”

Henson has seen many changes along Montford Drive during his time there.

“Angry Ales and Moosehead have served as the cornerstones for Montford and have been here for a long, long time. Brazwell’s [Pub] has been here, and then the bowling alley changed hands and names, but they’re back at it, attracting a great crowd. We’ve got a really good mix,” Henson said.

Oftentimes, developers come to a place in order to expand a market or try to garner foot traffic. Montford found its growth to move at a steady pace.

“We naturally grew up as a walkable, sort of entertainment spot. That’s one of the things I like about Montford,” Henson stated.

The strip of restaurants and bars has undergone adaptations and changes to meet newcomers in the neighborhood. In order to keep Park Road’s spirit alive, Angry Ales seeks to continuously solidify the growing community, Henson said.

“We’re a true neighborhood establishment. We try to offer our guests a fun environment and place for anybody to come,” he added. “You get to see the ideas that everyone [on Angry Ales’ staff] comes up with, and how that immediately impacts people. You get to be a part of celebrations and common gathering points, like when there’s a Panthers game or when Appalachian State wins a national championship; you’re a part of a collective victory with the people that are here.”

People sit at the bar at Angry Ales
Sports watch parties and trivia nights are big draws at Angry Ales. (Photo by Grant Baldwin)

Sports watch parties aren’t the only thing Angry Ales takes pride in. The restaurant and bar holds one of Charlotte’s longest running trivia nights with Tuesday night Music Trivia, Wednesday night Pop Culture, and Thursday night Name That Tune.

Without community and people supporting one another, places like Angry Ales wouldn’t exist. Neighborhood favorites would wash away with the wave of change and would be nothing but a nostalgic memory. Yet, here the people prevail and cheer their neighbors on.

“We really are nothing without the customers that we have that support us,” Henson expressed.

He thanked those over the last two decades who’ve been loyal to Angry Ales and continue to show up to the neighborhood bar, despite all the changes to the area and even as other establishments have come and gone.

It’s that support that has Angry Ales optimistic about sticking around for another 20 years or more, and that feels good as hell.


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