Fremont's drinking tradition

Fremont has a grand tradition of drinking. From our beginnings in the 1800s, when the lumbermen and mill workers labored here, local bars have been as important to community well-being as church and school.Bars bring a community together. Rarely will a bar be singularly about imbibing adult beverages. In speaking with owners and managers of six modern Fremont bars it becomes apparent that their appeal expands far beyond the rim of the glass.Fremont bars reflect a wild diversity. As Andy Kelleher, co-owner of The Dubliner, said, "I can't put a finger on [what makes the bars so different], but it is what makes Fremont an attraction."ENTERTAINMENTAs a place to gather and have fun, The Dubliner, 3517 Fremont Ave. N., offers a variety of options. Andy mentioned karaoke, open mic and college nights as diversions for weeknights. Weekends feature live music.According to manager Tamara Rose, The Ballroom, 456 N. 36th St., is almost two different bars. On weekdays, it has cards, cribbage and a trivia night and its trademark, pool. "Not too many places in Seattle have regulation tables," Tamara explained; The Ballroom has six. Then, late on Fridays, Saturdays and some Thursdays, The Ballroom transforms into a nightclub, with a dance floor.A few blocks away, the George & Dragon Pub, 206 N. 36th St., seldom offers live entertainment, according to co-owner John Bayliss. Instead, three different television reception systems bring in soccer, football and rugby games from all over the world.At High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., general manager Darren Mohr bragged, "We have one of the best sound systems!" It hosts "bands every night of the week. In essence, we're a rock club," he said, although "rock is so encompassing these days," that the music varies widely.The Buckaroo Tavern, 4201 Fremont Ave. N., offers pool, pinball and video games, owner Donna Morey said, but more than anything, Fremont's oldest bar (established in 1938) and most iconic is "not just a tavern. It's my living room."Like the Buckaroo, the Pacific Inn Pub, at 3501 Stone Way N., offers hospitality and a place for locals to gather. Robert Julien, who bought Pacific Inn in 1991, said people come in for the atmosphere; he suggested they also may come for the food.GRUBPacific Inn Pub offers high-quality food. "We're the best fish-and-chips in town!" Robert bragged. The Ballroom also has a growing following for its East Coast-style pizza.The George & Dragon offers English pub food, including bangers and mash, for lunch, dinner...and breakfast. Game times dictate that some World Cup followers will gather on the deck at the G&D to nosh English chips and watch the Turks play Italy at 8 a.m. on Saturday morningsThe Dubliner offers pub grub, according to Andy, including fish-and-chips and burgers. Food at the High Dive -slider sandwiches, burgers, Mac & Cheese - is more on the light side, according to Darren.COMMUNITY"The neighborhood has made The Ballroom what it is," Tamara said. Darren also mused that High Dive "wouldn't be the same somewhere else." High Dive is "a destination spot," he said, "because we have a different band every night." Customers will come distances to hear their band play. However, Darren also looks for "more local stuff," including a monthly belly-dance performance by Delilah.The Dubliner has "moved away from the Irish-pub image," Andy admitted, and has become what he described as a "universal-type bar." Its wide variety of clientele changes nightly, depending on the entertainment. "When we have a country band," he said, "we see a different crowd than on other nights."John and his partner opened the George & Dragon, their "typical English pub," here 13 years ago. John has seen Fremont change considerably in that time. While he admitted he likes the changes, he understands those who miss the old. Ultimately, "it's for the better," he said, "there is a lot more going on. It's a much busier place." He likes that for his business and its future. "I'm staying," he said. "I'm not going anywhere."MYTH OF THE SINGLE NEIGHBORHOOD BAROnce upon a time, shipyard workers made up most of the clientele at the Pacific Inn. Today, Robert still sees the place as a workman's bar, blue-collar rather than trendy, and "at any one time, I'll know 70 percent of the clientele."The Buckaroo also has a collection of regulars that have informed Donna about happenings at the bar when she couldn't be there. The community is so strong, Donna has hosted potluck dinners on Thanksgiving and Christmas so customers can celebrate with their Buckaroo family.But the Buck and Pacific Inn haven't cornered the market on neighborhood. All the other owners and managers described their establishments as "a neighborhood bar."It is possible they are all right. Fremont has long defied a narrow definition, and perhaps the bars show that best of all. Maybe Fremont is not one small community but a dynamic collection of smaller communities that come together in a variety of combinations to enjoy refreshment, entertainment and a rousing good time.Kirby Lindsay works, lives and enjoys an occasional night out in Fremont. She welcomes your comments at[[In-content Ad]]