Drink, And Get a Free Ride Home, At This Funky Petaluma Bar

 Traffic along Highway 116 passes by Ernie's Tin Bar in Petaluma on Thursday, July 18, 2013. (Conner Jay/
Traffic along Highway 116 passes by Ernie’s Tin Bar in Petaluma. (Conner Jay)

Drinking and driving is never a good idea, and being the designated driver isn’t much fun, either. What’s a beer lover to do? If you happen to live within 15 miles of Ernie’s Tin Bar in eastern Petaluma, you can call the free shuttle.

That’s right: The bar will send a car (a Toyota RAV4) to pick you up Friday through Sunday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. When you’ve had your fill of Ernie’s selection of 20 draft beers — many of them local — fully insured driver David Perez will take you home.

Mechanic Kenneth Altenreuther, right, works in the garage that adjoins Ernie's Tin Bar in Petaluma.
Mechanic Kenneth Altenreuther, right, works in the garage that adjoins Ernie’s Tin Bar in Petaluma.

If you’ve ever stopped by the funky roadside bar founded in 1923 on Lakeville Highway and Highway 116, you know why the shuttle makes so much sense. The Ernie’s parking lot holds only a few cars, so most patrons park alongside Highway 116. When it comes time to leave, they must play a dangerous game of chicken with lumbering big rigs and other vehicles on Lakeville Highway. It’s a tricky maneuver, even for the sober.

Bartender and owner Ernie Altenreuther, center, talks with regulars at Ernie's Tin Bar in Petaluma on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Conner Jay/The
Bartender and owner Ernie Altenreuther, center, talks with regulars at Ernie’s Tin Bar in Petaluma. (Conner Jay)
A deer head hangs from the wall at Ernie's Tin Bar in Petaluma on Wednesday, July 31, 2013. (Conner Jay
A deer head hangs from the wall at Ernie’s Tin Bar in Petaluma. (Conner Jay)

“We wanted to provide a service to our customers and reduce the risk for people on the road,” said Ernie’s bartender Christine Nardone, who said that before launching the shuttle service last summer, proprietor Ernie Altenreuther would sometimes drive tipsy people home in his van.

Perez, who may be Sonoma’s only in-house designated driver, added: “We do this because Ernie’s cares.”

Ernie’s Tin Bar, 5100 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma, visit on Facebook. Call or text 707-478-0586 for pickup.

An overflow crowd sits in garage in the back of Ernie's Tin Bar in Petaluma.(Conner Jay)
An overflow crowd sits in the garage in the back of Ernie’s Tin Bar in Petaluma.(Conner Jay)

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