JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Ron Stefanik is among the residents of Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood who have been surprised to see a green neon sign lit over a door that had been locked since the pandemic took root.
A new bar, Liquid Currency, is open for business at 313 Second Ave.
Husband-and-wife duo Shawn and Roxanne Jones own and operate the bar. They have plans to open a kitchen and offer karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays, Shawn Jones said.
“We want to keep a low cost, so people can have a drink and something to eat and still have money in their pocket,” he said. “We are trying to do everything we can to bring people.”
He said business has been slow, but patronage is building.
To Stefanik, the BullShooter Live dartboard in the bar could make it the capital for online competitive darts in Johnstown.
Stefanik knows about darts.
In 2012, he and seven other dart throwers from Catholic War Veterans Post 1103 in downtown Johnstown claimed a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records in the Million and One Up game.
The bar also has a pool table and digital jukebox.
Justin Swanhart was among the bar’s patrons Thursday night.
“It’s a nonjudgemental place for a beer and a shot,” he sad.
“They (Shawn and Roxanne) are nice people who are fun to talk to.”
‘Nice and very clean’
The location was formerly home to Old Town Tavern, which closed last year amid the pandemic, said former owner Charles Beppler.
He owned the Cambria City bar for four years, but he’s been in the local bar business for 26 years. His more established bars are 3 Reds in Hornerstown and KC Tavern on Decker Avenue.
“I wanted to sell it because I couldn’t find workers during the pandemic,” Beppler said. “Shawn said, ‘I’ll take it.’ ”
Jones is a roofer by trade who transitioned to the real estate business in the early 2000s. He and Roxanne also own S&R Realty and rent houses in Westmont, Southmont and Upper Yoder. The Joneses and their young daughters live in Hornerstown.
Shawn said he takes pride in fixing up houses and keeping them affordable for people.
His talent is on display with what he’s done inside his bar.
Stone-look tabletops are his own work, made from scrap wood from one of his properties and some epoxy.
The walls and ceiling have also been repaired since the building changed from Old Town Tavern to Liquid Currency.
Beppler said he is impressed with the change.
“I like it,” he said. “It’s nice and very clean.”
Choosing a name
The name Liquid Currency came from a suggestion of one of the Jones’ adult sons.
“He suggested ‘Currency,’ so I called my lawyer and ran the name past him,” Shawn said.
“He said it was taken, but ‘Liquid Currency’ wasn’t taken. I said that’s fine. I didn’t care what it was called, I just wanted to provide for my family.”
Family is a strong theme in the life he and Roxanne have built together.
They have four grown children who live in the area and two young daughters who they adopted.
Shawn and Roxanne were both born and raised in Johnstown. They were married in 2006 and became foster parents a couple years later. Their first foster experience was with children of relatives, Shawn said.
Then one day, Cambria County Children and Youth Services called and asked if Shawn would take kinship foster classes, which led to the couple fostering 17 children in only a couple years after they were married.
They adopted their daughters, now ages 5 and 6, when they were babies.
“We never planned on any of it,” he said. “It just happened and it’s a good thing.”
Roxanne was a nurse for 27 years before she left her job to become a full-time mom.
“It was hard, but the kids needed someone,” she said. “And we fell in love with them.”
Since they opened the bar in late July, Roxanne and Shawn have taken turns working in the evenings while the other stays at home with the children.
For Roxanne, it’s been six years since taking a job other than full-time mom.
“The girls go to school now, and I thought it would be a change of scenery,” she said. “I enjoy meeting all the people.”
Stefanik said he’s glad to have the neighborhood bar open.
“They are good, homegrown people,” he said. “They are very down-to-earth and honest.”