manager Helen Haslip got a call recently from the daughter of one of the local hang-out’s regulars.
She wondered if she could purchase a gift card for her dad for Father’s Day. Haslip explained that the Tavern isn’t the kind of place that has gift cards, but that they do sell beer chips, good for one beer each.
The daughter asked if she could purchase a dozen chips on her credit card and have her dad get them the next time he came in. Haslip ran the card and put the chips aside for the customer, who was happy to collect them during his next visit.
Therein lies the appeal of the Tavern, where the main attraction, says Haslip, is the “good cold beer” and the comfortable camaraderie. Most of the customers are regulars, she says. Describing the Tavern as “a watering hole for the boys,” she notes that the clientele come from all walks of life.
It’s the kind of place where being a regular has its perks–if Haslip sees you coming and knows your drink, she’s likely to have it poured by the time you come through the door. It’s the kind of place–dare I say it–where everybody knows your name.
I have to admit that every time I drive by the Tavern I smile. The presence of that humble little establishment in the midst of the increasingly tony Woodinville Wine Country has long piqued my curiosity.
In fact, the Tavern has been around a lot longer than most of the wineries, or just about anything else, in the vicinity. According to Haslip, the building opened as a gas station in the early 1920s, when SR 202 was the main road to Snoqualmie. The doors to the station bays are still there–window boxes have been attached to the outside and seats to the inside, but otherwise they are intact.
According to Haslip, the building was turned into a tavern in the early 1940s. There have only been three owners since, she adds. Long-time residents may remember when it was called Mabel’s. According to Haslip, Mabel Newman owned the tavern and worked it well into her later years. “She opened when she wanted to and kicked everyone out when she wanted to close and go to bed,” she laughs, adding that Newman lived above a garage that used to be on the property.
Current proprietors Nick and Kathy Uren bought the place about 20 years ago. As a tavern (rather than a bar), the Uren’s establishment serves only beer and wine, explains Haslip, who first came to the Tavern as manager 13 years ago. Budweiser, Bud Lite and Pabst Blue Ribbon (currently popular with the new Hipster crowd) are on tap; PBR is the favorite, says Haslip, because “it’s cheap.” Other brews (including those of the Tavern’s neighbor, Redhook) are available in bottles or cans. Hot dogs, popcorn and chips are sold as well.
Beer-related memorabilia lines the walls; items from Olympia, the owners’ favorite brewery, predominate. There’s an old-fashioned jukebox that plays 45s. According to Haslip, one of the regular customers has a collection of thousands of the records and changes the selection periodically. Customers can play darts or purchase pull-tabs for a chance to win cash prizes. The biggest prize so far? $599, she says.
Drive by in the evening or on the weekend and you’ll see a number of cars in the gravel parking lot. It can get crowded, says Haslip, but “people always make room” for more. The weekends see a little extra traffic, she adds, as a result of increased tourist activity. “Husbands are tired of drinking wine with their wives” and come in for a beer, she laughs.
And I’m sure they are made to feel more than welcome.