BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Country Heaven, a relatively new Baumholder bar, is turning into a haven for soldiers in search of a little southern comfort. On weekend nights here, the uniforms are put away and the cowboy hats, boots and tight blue jeans are on full display.

Unlike the rest of the nightlife scene in Baumholder — mainly comprised of strip joints and unruly dance clubs — Country Heaven offers up a down-home feel.

“You know what to expect when you come here. We’re not trying to be everything to everybody,” said owner Irene Rudholzner.

What to expect is country music, beer, booze and pool-shooting showdowns. When standards like “Friends in Low Places” hit the speakers, patrons join together in sing-alongs.

Things usually didn’t pick up at Country Heaven until 9 or 10 p.m.

Rudholzner, known to her customers as Debby, opened Country Heaven back in September. Two years earlier, she established Heavy Heaven, another Baumholder bar that has a heavy metal theme.

Both bars attract a core group of loyal regulars. Patrons say the two bars are probably the safest of those frequented by soldiers. Bar fights are commonplace in Baumholder, but not at Rudholzner’s bars.

“Debby’s all for the soldier,” said Spc. Thomas Rayl, a regular a both establishments.

It’s not unusual to see soldiers behind the bar, washing dishes. If a guy is short on cash, he can help clean up and earn a couple of drinks for later in the evening. Special discounts to loyal cash strapped patrons are pretty common, too.

Don’t expect anything fancy if you pay a visit to Country Heaven. Indeed, if you’re a wine-sipping, sushi-eating sort, steer clear of Country Heaven, and Baumholder all together for that matter.

This bar is about the music, and the beer, and the camaraderie.

“Everybody who comes here loves the music. Everybody can sing the songs,” said bartender Sandra Komposch. “There’s a happy atmosphere.”

Soldiers frequently bring in country music CDs to add to the bar’s growing collection.

“When I came to Baumholder it was just hip-hop bars,” Rudholzner said. “A lot of these boys are from Texas. This is like home.”

If you’re thinking about giving Country Heaven a try, then June 8 could be the date. A new wing to the bar, which will include additional pool tables, will be completed and ready for a grand opening party.

Rudholzner said “1,000” free drinks will be served up for the event.

To see previous After Hours reviews, go to

Heaven in Germany

Drink prices: Beer runs about 2.90 euro for half a liter. Mixed drinks are 2.50.Cover charge: None.Food: None.Entertainment: Country music and pool tables.Clientele: Mostly American soldiers from the 1st AD in Baumholder.Dress: Super casual. Cowboy hats and boots welcomed.Location: On RingStrasse in downtown Baumholder. Hours: Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. until around 5 a.m. On Monday – Thursday, there’s no fixed closing time, however, the bar tends to close earlier than weekend nights.Phone: 0-6783-185-2195Web site: None.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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