Rough exterior hides the Woodshed's festive atmosphere

Bar exam • Games and nightly music enhance character of SLC hot spot.
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The common saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" can certainly be applied to the Woodshed.

From the outside, the bar looks tattered, and the prisonlike front door is a bit unsettling.

Once inside, patrons find a bar that's basically a game room for adults, with arcade games like Pac-Man, old-school football and Photobooth.

The arcade atmosphere is not surprising considering that owner Lee Hoang owned a furniture store and the Nickelcade in Sandy before buying the Woodshed.

"He was able to bring in tons of awesome furniture and games," said manager and bartender Laura Jones. All the games are free, except the crane games.

The Woodshed opened more than five years ago, and Jones has been there the entire time.

"To quote one of my regulars Jon Rowan, 'it's like a dysfunctional family reunion,' " Jones said. "Every day new friends are made, the music is great, and the staff makes everyone feel welcome. You could go there alone and leave with 20 new best friends."

Local musician and Woodshed regular Jeff Phillips says that before the Woodshed opened, he rarely went to a bar to drink or hang out.

Phillips likes to come for the Wednesday open mic night, where he and other musicians take the stage.

"Jam night is the best night to come," said the guitarist. "You can see 10 different people that are really talented kids just starting out in one night."

Fans who sit near the inside stage — there's one outside, too — can get an up-close view of the musicians, or they can hang back on one of the comfortable couches arranged around coffee tables, creating a living-room setting. Behind the couches are a few booths and some high-top tables.

The Woodshed offers 12 beers on tap as well as mixed drinks with chips or popcorn.

Through the back doors is the patio, which is home to the Sunday Funday barbecues. On that day, the bar grills hamburgers, hot dogs and vegetable patties from noon to 5 p.m.

This section also includes a cash-only bar, tables, where patrons like to play cornhole, and a stage, where local bands perform Friday and Saturday nights throughout the summer.

Music is a major element of the Woodshed, with some form of music playing every night of the week. Sunday and Tuesday is karaoke night, Monday features local DJs and Thursday is reggae night.

The Woodshed is definitely rough around the edges. But the laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff make up for what it lacks in style and decorations. —

The Woodshed

This neighborhood bar lacks style but is a great place to enjoy arcade games and local music.

Where • 60 E. 800 South, Salt Lake City; 801-364-0805 or

When • Open Monday-Sunday, 5 p.m.–2 a.m.

Upcoming events • Friday, June 14, Matthew and the Hope; Saturday, June 15, Juana Ghani with Bombshell Academy; Friday, June 28, Funk n' Gonzo.