There’s a certain comfort that comes when you find a neighborhood bar.

Being able to go to a place that is reasonably close to home and where nearly everybody knows your name can help you feel connected to the community, even if you only see your neighbors when they’re on the bar stool next to you.

For nearly a quarter of a century, Gasoline Alley has provided stools and a few tables for area folks to hang out, eat and drink well and, more often than not, see someone they know.

Gasoline Alley is a relatively small and cozy space where the walls are covered in various bric-a-brac and old-school bicycles hang from the ceiling. No, it’s not like walking into one of those cookie-cutter chains with faux-kitschy, manufacturer-distressed junk on the walls that was clearly trucked in from “Cheesy Crap for Corporate Restaurants Warehouse, Ltd.”

Every photo, knickknack and gewgaw hanging on Gasoline Alley’s walls and ceiling is genuine, including the sweet photo of the founders, the late Al Kerkian and Susan Johnson — who still runs the place with daughter Arami — giving the place a casual, homey feel.

Much of the space is taken up by the lengthy bar where friends new and old sit, drink and talk with the friendly bartenders. Behind the bar are a few unobtrusive screens and though there’s not much room inside, there is a nice patio for larger groups.

Debbie and John Nauer of West Akron have been regulars at Gasoline Alley for several years for a few simple reasons.

“We like it for the bar, mostly,” Debbie said. “The food is always good. We always come as a family. It’s a good place to bring your kids. It’s comfortable.”

“It’s affordable. You’re not going to spend $20 for a steak like you would at Hyde Park … and you always know what you’re going to get,” added John, a retired educator of 37 years.

The Nauers, who live nearby, say they see someone they know most times when they come in for Debbie’s favorite, the portabello mushroom sandwich, and a few drinks. And almost on cue, cousin Jody Simko (John used to babysit her) arrived for a round of greetings and big hugs.

The menu at Gasoline Alley — which touts that the restaurant was voted “Best Deli in Northeast Ohio Twice” — is surprisingly large, with more than 60 items on the first side. More than half are classics and variations on deli sandwiches, from basic tuna salad to fried catfish to localized inventions such as the Sarah’s vegetable truck (cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and avocado on a pita with yogurt dressing).

I tried both the Traffic Jam (hot pastrami, ham, salami, provolone, mozzarella and vinaigrette), and from the burger menu the Bacon Fat Boy, a big-ass no-frills (except for the bacon) cheeseburger. All the sandwiches range from $7-$14 and the burgers are all $10.

But wait! There’s much more! Flip the menu and there’s fan favorite Pasta Con Vodka (with prosciutto!), a small selection of omelets, pizza, and for the grazers, several salads and a few vegetarian sandwiches. There are also soups and sides, including the fried zucchini, which is much more delicious than it should be.

If the outsized menu isn’t enough, there are seven daily specials in the $8-$12 range, making each day a possible culinary adventure.

Friends Kathy Harris and Sharon Browarek, both of Bath, were enjoying a few “not-too-dirty” martinis on National Margarita Day, and also appreciated the convenient location and comfortable atmosphere at Gasoline Alley.

“Well, we love the servers, they’re all fantastic and we love the food. We love everything about it,” Browarek said.

“They’re all so cute and so friendly,” said Harris, a Revere school district teacher.

“Oftentimes we’ll just come for the special, which is so reasonably priced,” Browarek said, noting they don’t even bother to check the Facebook page to see what the specials are: “We just try it.”

They also appreciate that Gasoline Alley is open relatively late. It closes at 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, midnight on Friday and Saturday and 10 p.m. on Sunday.

“It’s hard here in sleepy old Bath to find a place that’s open late, and it’s reasonably priced,” Harris said.

For folks who prefer a cozy, true friendly neighborhood bar over the hip, cavernous, plasma-screen-laden warehouse-style bars and grills, Gasoline Alley should be on your list.

Malcolm X Abram can be reached at mabram@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3758. Follow him on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/1lNgxml or on Twitter @malcolmabramABJ.