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How One Saratogian DIY-ed His Way to the Dream of Having His Own Home Bar

Joe Bunk built his basement bar from scratch—and on a budget.

When creating his new bar, Joe Bunk tried his best to make the space look old by incorporating reclaimed materials and vintage décor. (Francesco D'Amico)

Joe Bunk has wanted a bar in his home for so long that his in-laws gave him a “Joe’s Bar” coaster set as a wedding present. But he didn’t want to buy a bar—he wanted to build a bar. “I’ve always been the type of person who likes to take things apart and put them back together,” says the Saratogian. “I’m very goal oriented, and I wanted to put some time and energy and thought into it.” And so, even before COVID halted restaurant-dining, bar-hopping and out-of-home social gathering, Bunk got to work constructing his very own Caroline street-worthy home bar…on a budget.

While he sourced the salvaged granite bar top, galvanized metal base and copper trough from local construction material retailers, just about everything else that went into the project was something Bunk already had on hand. The floor behind the bar is an old cabinet top; the foot rail is made in part out of an old barbell; the sink was one Bunk nabbed from an old kitchen he dismantled when working in property management; the corner liquor cabinet was one his father built; décor came from Bunk’s existing personal collection of beer memorabilia; a light fixture was given to him by a neighbor who had recently downsized his classic car garage. “Mike Roohan, the owner of Granite & Marble Works, did the tap hole,” Bunk says. “That was part of the deal—I said, ‘You can do the granite in my kitchen as long as you drill a hole in my bar top.’” 

These days, Joe’s Bar is the perfect place for Bunk’s family and friends to dig into a takeout dinner, play a round of darts or foosball, or catch a football game. It’s also become the practice site for Get Loose, a band Bunk formed after learning how to play base guitar when he went back to college for his graduate degree in his 50s. And while Bunk certainly enjoyed the process of building Joe’s Bar, there was no hesitation when I asked him what his favorite part was: “Opening night.”

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is the director of content at Saratoga Living and Capital Region Living.

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