Editor's note: This is the 248th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTNGTON — "You're kidding me, right? You're really telling me that one of the best restaurants in this town is in a bowling alley?"
Over the years, people in Huntington took great delight in introducing disbelieving out-of-town visitors to Rebels & Redcoats Tavern, the nationally acclaimed restaurant housed under the same roof as Colonial Lanes.
Originally, Rebels catered only to the Colonial Lanes bowlers, serving draft beer, soft drinks, crock cheese and an original sandwich of kosher corned beef, cream cheese and sweet onion. But the arrival of liquor-by-the-drink in West Virginia in 1967 triggered a decision by partners Lloyd Frankel and Charlie Neighborgall Sr. to expand Rebels into a full-service restaurant.
Rebels offered a gourmet menu and wine list in a Colonial-style setting of rustic brick and wood, a large wood-burning fireplace, pewter plates, ruby red goblets and stained glass windows by Blenko.
A big part of the restaurant's appeal was its nightly live music, generally an enjoyable mix of dance music and Broadway show tunes. Always a perfectionist, Frankel tried to personally audition each musical group before booking them. On a busy Friday or Saturday night, it could be hard to find any room on the crowded dance floor.
When Frankel died in 1986, Rob Neighborgall, Charlie's son, took over as manager. In 2004, long-time customers were surprised to learn that Rebels, citing increased competition from other restaurants, was closing as a full-service restaurant and returning to its roots as a tavern.
In recent years, Colonial Lanes, with Rob's daughter, Amy Neighborgall-Fisher in charge, remained a fun spot for local bowlers. Then, in June, came another surprise announcement. After 60 years, Colonial Lanes closed its doors and the building was put up for sale.