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Garage Bars, Free Drinks Turning Quiet New Jersey Town Into The Life Of The Party

MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Why go out when you can stay in?

That's the thought in one New Jersey town, where the local bars are in residents' own garages and the drinks are on the house!

It's a two-door garage on the outside, full bar with flat screens and dart boards on the inside.

"The space was screaming to me. It had to be better utilized and why not make a fun space to entertain," Maplewood resident John Garbarino said.

In Garbarino's driveway you'll find "Gar-Bar" – as in garage bar.

"Gar Bar" in Maplewood, New Jersey (Credit: CBS2)

A few years ago, he cleared out the car, built a counter, bought the booze, and started collecting all the trinkets that make it feel like a real pub.

"Some people ask 'how do you do that without having a license' and I say this is just my home," Garbarino explained.

"Gar Bar" in Maplewood, New Jersey (Credit: CBS2)

Drinks are free and his guests have to be invited. Garbarino says when he moved to Maplewood from Manhattan, he missed the nightlife.

"The bar scene is not like New York City where you have a lot of options… there's some nights it gets a little noisy and I have to apologize to neighbors."

As more people around town started seeing Gar-Bar, the idea spread. Garbarino says there are at least eight hyperlocal watering holes in Maplewood now.

There's "Sloppy Joe's" across the street…

(Credit: CBS2)

"Smitty's Tavern" around the corner…

"Smitty's Tavern" in Maplewood, New Jersey (Credit: CBS2)

"When you move from the greatest city in the world you're moving from things around the corner… and you sort of miss that option," Brian Krupkin said.

Krupkin says turning his garage into a tavern made him feel more at home in his neighborhood.

"It's also a great way to meet people in the neighborhood," the at-home bartender told CBS2's Ali Bauman.

But even with a bar in the backyard, "you'll never get rid of the desire to get out and get away," Garbarino added.

So pour yourself a pint, but don't spill it – your neighbor may be the one who has to clean it up.

Maplewood town hall did not respond to CBS2's request for comment, but the Gar-Bar owner said he's had the place inspected and is following the local building codes.

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