AYER -- Bar 25, which opened in December, is a relative newcomer to Main Street, and judging by turnout for its ribbon cutting/grand opening earlier this month, a welcome one.
Of course, there were enticements beyond the usual, including a colorful, aromatic array of freshly made artisan pizzas, free for the taking and the chef just kept them coming, almost as fast as busy bar tenders and servers delivered drinks.
The Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce, which co-sponsored the event also publicized it and issued invitations. But the event was free and open to all and according to the owner, Reza Rahmani, the bar's popularity has been growing steadily since he opened five weeks ago.
The community and neighboring businesses like Union Coffee House next door have been "wonderful," he said.
Rahmani greeted guests at the door and worked the room, dashing out to the kitchen now and then.
It's a square-ish, smallish room, paneled like the rest of the space, with a big, square, butcher-block-topped island in the middle, more like a gourmet work space than a typical commercial kitchen.
Rahmani designed it himself. These workers are "the backbone of the business," and his goal was to create a pleasant environment for them.
The same goes for the dish-washing room next door, separate by design from the cooking/prep area.
"I grew up in the restaurant business," said Rahmani, who hails from Brookline.
He was delighted but not overwhelmed by the grand opening turnout, literally wall to wall. "It's always like this on weekends," he said.
The bar was full, two-deep and with seats snagged early on it was standing room only. Some first-timers managed to find their own niche.
The guest list included a group from Renaissance Electronics, a Devens firm. Cozily ensconced at a rear table, they were well supplied with pizza and beer. "The Chamber invited us," said a man seated at the end of the table. Would they come back? "Probably," he said.
With seating for 26 at a long, polished-wood bar that dominates the main room, about a half dozen more at the rear and three or four bistro-style tables in a high-ceilinged, open area in front, Bar 25 infuses its relatively small square footage with a big city vibe.
Rahmani, who spent eight months remodeling before moving in, envisions expanded seating options. There's ample space for it the current footprint, which extends out back. A previous tenant used it as office space, he said.
Already a local destination, Bar 25 could be the kind of place where everybody knows your name.
The menu includes craft cocktails and beers and a selection of "signature" food items with quirky names, like "Earl of Grilled Cheese ($8) and an eggplant dish with homemade hummus spread, balsamic glazed diced tomatoes, scallions and walnuts ($11) named "The Bad Hunter."
Rahami takes pride in the menu, as much for what's not in it as for what is. No prepared mixes, no processed sugar in the cocktails, for example; plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, food and drink alike. And no preservatives.
If a customer asks for a particular cocktail that's not on the menu, say something exotic, the bartender will accommodate, he said, but only if they have the ingredients in-house, never a substitute that might make the drink less flavorful, less than perfect. "Our aim is to keep it simple" and all-natural, he said.
Bar 25 is open Tuesday-Friday, 3 p.m. to closing; noon to closing on Saturday. Closing time varies depending on customers. The legal limit is 2 a.m., but if the place has cleared out, it closes. It's closed on Monday.