fuel bar + refuge pushes the boundaries

Paul Pugsley, owner of fuel bar + refuge
Paul Pugsley, owner of fuel bar + refuge
Photo: Urban St./Kelsey Smith

By Kelsey Smith

At fuel bar + refuge, nothing is off limits. Spring Lake’s new American-style restaurant opened in February and has been buzzing ever since.

“When we saw that Chan’s Restaurant was up for sale, we wanted to take that opportunity to reopen it as a restaurant and bar and be something that would be meaningful for the community,” said Paul Pugsley, owner. “Focusing on cocktails and barbecue was an easy choice because those are things that I love and that I know how to do. And then the addition of all the great people that work here helped us expand beyond just barbecuing and a few cocktails.”

The from-scratch restaurant and cocktail bar got its name from the former Texaco gas station that sat in the same space from 1934 to 1970. In 1970, the Chan family opened Chan’s Restaurant, which was in operation until late 2016; its original circular sign still hangs in the window above the front door.

Aside from the popular wood-fired pizzas and brisket, fuel bar + refuge specializes in homemade pasta, offering a new feature every week.

fuel bar + refuge dishes
Photos: fuel bar + refuge

“Our menu has become Southern soul food plus Italian,” Pugsley said. “You know, instead of just pigeonholing this place as a certain type of restaurant, we want to stick to things that the people that work here enjoy. So, we have an eclectic mix — which I know everyone says can be dangerous for a restaurant — but we don’t really care. We’re always adding something strange and throwing something against the wall to see what sticks.”

One of the bar’s popular cocktails is the strawberry rhubarb moon — a refreshing choice made with strawberry applejack, oloroso sherry, lime, rhubarb amaro, chilled soda water, agave nectar and muddled cucumber. 

“One other thing that people really love is that we always have ginger beers that are made here from-scratch,” Pugsley said. “We make four ginger beer flavors a week, and we always have an original, which is lemon-forward, and then three other wild flavors ranging from green tea to peach dragon fruit.”

Right now, fuel bar + refuge is only open for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and brunch on Sunday. Pugsley plans on expanding hours in the future.

fuel bar + refuge
228 W. Savidge St., Spring Lake