Cheers to 10 years: The Volstead Bar celebrates a decade in downtown

What is it: The Volstead Bar is celebrating its 10th anniversary on Jan. 31 and is planning a celebration fit for the destination location in Sandusky that it’s become.

“We’ve been lucky enough to have a great following of locals, but we’ve also been able to capture an audience that comes from Cleveland or Columbus who come to the Volstead,” says Ryan Whaley, who co-owns the bar with Nikki Lloyd. “Or there are people who have heard about us, even though they live in LA, and when they come to visit family, they have to stop here.”

A little history: The bar is tiny, seating just 21 patrons at a time. If the light in the window is green, that means there’s seating available. When it turns red, the place is full. It was also known as a house of ill-repute back in the day.

“People talk about it, they leave reviews, there are photos, and there are people who will tell you how to find the place and what to do if the light is red,” Whaley says. “It’s taken on a mind of its own. As a matter of fact, the great-granddaughter of the madame found me on Facebook and sent me photos and information about her great-grandmother, Madame Frankie.”

A new cocktail will be featured each day of the celebration.Televisions are also not part of the vibe at the Volstead. The bar is there to give friends the space to talk to each other and, possibly, make new acquaintances while enjoying a cocktail, be it an old favorite or a new concoction.

“The idea is to stimulate conversation,” Whaley says. “If you have a space in Volstead, you will be able to talk with the people you came in with, but what we also find is that folks are talking with each other. They are very interested in the cocktails and they want to talk to the bartender about how they are making it.”

Anniversary celebration: While the official anniversary date is Jan. 31, things will start at noon Jan, 21 which begins the 10 Days of the Volstead. The bar hours are normally 4-10 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnights on Fridays and 2 p.m.-midnight on Saturdays, but the bar plans to be open the Sunday and Tuesday during the 10-day period.

A new cocktail will be featured each day of the celebration, and bartenders who have moved on to other careers are scheduled to return to catch up with patrons. The Volstead also plans to have a musician playing music from Prohibition times on the final day of the event.

“It’s a little different take on a celebration which kind of spreads it out a little so everybody has a chance to get in,” Whaley says. “It’s kind of tough to have one big anniversary party with a bar that only seats 21 people.”

More information: The Volstead Bar is located at 316 E. Water St. in Sandusky. Follow the bar on Facebook or Instagram for more information, or go to The bar does not have a phone, nor has any plans to have one, according to Whaley.

“Come in, help us celebrate, and have some cocktails,” he says. “Not only will we have some of the bartenders’ favorite cocktails, but there have probably been five iterations of the menus, so some cocktails are going to come back and some new ones are going to be introduced. It’s a chance to relive some of the history of the place, but also see the future of it.”