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It’s Last Call for the Rusty Nail, One of Atlanta’s Oldest Dive Bars

The dive bar known for its 18-foot gun-shaped smoker out front is closing September 23 after nearly 50 years on Buford Highway

The Rusty Nail
Beth McKibben is the editor and staff reporter for Eater Atlanta and has been covering food and cocktails locally and regionally for over 12 years.

Billed as “the South’s version of Cheers,” dive bar the Rusty Nail, with its giant smoker shaped like a gun out front, is closing after nearly 50 years on Buford Highway, Tomorrow’s News Today reports.

Last call for well shots, High Life tallboys, and hard-fried wings at the Rusty Nail is apparently set for Saturday, September, 23. No reason is given for the closure of the bar. However, it appears the land on which the Rusty Nail resides may be up for sale soon.

Nick Cardellino and Pete Hayes first opened the Rusty Nail on Buford Highway in 1974, followed by a Sandy Springs location four years later. That location closed last year after more than 40 years on Roswell Road, allowing the owners to focus more attention on the original Buford Highway bar. According to some longtime Atlantans, the Buford Highway location was previously home to hamburger joint Sandy’s Drive-In.

Over the past five decades, the Rusty Nail on Buford Highway became known for its distinctive divey ambiance, along with weekly trivia, drink specials, and varied menu ranging from wings and fish and chips to barbecue plates and burgers, and even Cardellino’s Atlanta-famous lasagna. But the Rusty Nail’s most distinguishing feature, at least from the road, is the conspicuous 18-foot black metal gun with its barrel used for smoking meat.

Eater reached out for more information on the closure of the Rusty Nail. Check back for updates.