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About the Local Bar in Apex

(The Triangle Trend) On a small plot of land southwest of Raleigh sits a small, unassuming bar. From US 64, where it sits and really, even once you’re inside, it is unspectacular. But, as the saying goes, looks aren’t everything, or perhaps better said, don’t judge this book by its cover.

No, this isn’t any old bar. This is the Local Bar.

For the loyal customers (and there are many) who frequent the Local Bar—the old and the new, it is far more than a watering hole or a hole in the wall or a dive bar or a biker bar. So, while the Local Bar does embody to some degree or another, these familiar labels, the consensus among the Local Bar faithful is this: the Local Bar is home and the people they share it with, their extended family.


A few years after the Great Depression, a couple of gas pumps were built on this site. Almost predictably a small country store was added and for some, it became a small town destination of sorts.

Laurie Jones, a long time NC native and Local Bar champion, recalls visiting it when it was called Darnell’s Grocery, circa 1970. She remembered it being the first place she wanted to visit after getting her driver’s license. As she noted, with so many from the community likely to be there, it made sense that you’d want to be seen driving a car to the most prominent local hangout in the area.

Mike Swift, another long-time regular, has Local Bar roots that date back to 1983. Swift noted how the rusted underground gas tanks compelled a change and circa 1985, beer began to flow instead of petroleum. It was around this time that it became Something Else, both figuratively and literally.

Over the next 35 years, the bar changed owners and names. It navigated its fair share of financial, legal, structural, and other challenges. Something Else became the Little Bar, a name that stuck for 17 years. After a very brief stint with the moniker, The Iron Horse, the bar was sold once again, this time to Jim Oxford, Vietnam and Airforce veteran. It’s been known as the Local Bar ever since.


Though Oxford is the owner, the most visible–and passionate–presence at the Local Bar is the General Manager, Rachel “Ray” Cole. Ray does it all, seamlessly, tirelessly, gracefully with a smile on her face that is both infectious and, I’m guessing, belies the effort it takes to keep this Apex Icon humming.

It’s worth pointing out that while the Local Bar strongly identifies with and supports the biker community, it would be misleading to label it a biker bar. While it’s true that the early years featured a heavy and sometimes intimidating biker presence, that is now a part of Local Bar lore and doesn’t reflect the vibe of the bar today. It is, as some have commented, a “biker bar petting zoo.”

Helping Those in Need

Make no mistake, selling drinks with a kick is the Local Bar’s core mission, but coming in a close second is helping people in need.

Fundraising is nothing new to the Local Bar. It’s been a staple here for as long as anyone can remember. Organizations that have the bar’s undying support and are frequently featured in fundraising activities include Support US Armed Forces and the American Veterans Motorcycle Club, just to name a few. Oxford is particularly passionate about supporting causes that help veterans with PTSD.

But, the fundraising doesn’t end there. The Local Bar, from its earliest days, has been a rock in terms supporting customers in need of help, be it financial, emotional–you name it.

And, beyond the fundraising, the Local Bar hosts everything from weddings (i.e., Ray is an ordained minister and married a couple in the bar), funerals, wakes, baby and wedding showers, birthdays, graduations, etc. While it might seem to some unusual and even, dare I say, gauche to consider hosting the aforementioned “life events” at a bar, you must consider that the Local Bar is home to so many–and has been for a long time. In that sense, the bar is the logical and obvious place to host these celebrations of life and death.

Long-time patrons tell me that they look around and see the children of their fellow local bar compatriots. The Local Bar is a generational thing, too. It’s a home away from home for so many. It’s also a home on the way home, a community, and a non-judgement zone. To be sure, it’s not for everyone but, as Ray was quick to note, everyone is welcome.

This local landmark sits on US 64 East just inside of the Wake County line. The unassuming outside and predictable inside (e.g., bar, pool table, dart boards, juke box, stage for live bands, etc.) don’t even begin to tell the story. You see, when you enter this place, it’s hard not to feel the embrace. That’s because, when you enter the Local Bar, you’re home.

Welcome to the family.

Note: During Covid-19, the Local Bar is currently only serving To Go growlers. Visit their website and join them on Facebook for updates and insights.

Local Bar

2901 US 64

Apex, NC 27523 

919 303-7014 

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