American Rust: Is Snarly a Real Bar?

Set in Pennsylvania, a State prominent within the country’s Rust Belt area, ‘American Rust’ takes place in the small town of Buell, where unemployment and other social issues continue to plague the community. Yet, it’s Police Chief Del Harris and his loved ones’ unfortunate run-in with the wrong side of the law that pushes the cop to make ill-advised decisions— that remains at the show’s narrative center. In season two, titled ‘American Rust: Broken Justice,’ the story broadens its horizons, including the Pennsylvania big city, Pittsburgh, into the storyline. Yet, Buell remains a narrative nucleus, with the town’s culture and community occupying the thematic center stage.

For the same reason, viewers might be curious to know if Snarly, the establishment that the second season introduces to Buell’s community, has any basis in real life.

Snarly: Virgil Poe’s New Business Venture

Virgil Poe’s brand-new business undertaking, The Snarly Bar, remains another fictional element within the fictional town of Buell. Although the business makes its introduction in the second season, the bar has been a part of the show since the start, known as “Rylan’s” in the first season when the establishment’s namesake owned the place. However, season two witnesses a change of hand in the bar’s ownership, which comes with an anagrammed rebranding. In that regard, the bar’s reinvention also parallels the show’s significant shift from season 1 to season 2, which comes with subtle but noticeable thematic and narrative differences.

In-universe, Mark Pellegrino’s character, Virgil Poe, embarks on a new chapter of his life this season, finalizing his divorce from his former wife, Grace, with intentions to maintain friendly relations afterward. Still, the man leaves the marriage with one last extortion from Grace before signing the divorce papers: enough money to buy Rylan’s bar to start his own business. The transaction is amicable enough and doesn’t taint their relationship any more than their marriage already did.

Thus, Virgil’s acquisition of Rylan’s bar and management of it under the new name Snarly signifies the character’s growth within the narrative. The same remains reflected in other aspects of his storyline, particularly his growing relationship with his son, Billy, whom he strives to help in his own unique way throughout the season. Aside from Snarly’s thematic impact on Virgil’s character, the bar— with its dive bar appeal— also infuses an authentic feel to the local nightlife of Buell.

The bar’s location under a bridge instantly imparts a charming and cozy feel to the place, marking it as memorable among the numerous establishments in the town. Thus, the bar informs the small-town environment of the show, which cements its authentic Pennsylvania blue-collar town aesthetic. Nevertheless, since no real-life counterpart exists for this bar, it remains confined to the show’s fictionality.

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