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Bars where Pete has had a Drink (3,326 bars; 1,511 bars in Seattle):

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

#2532 - Checkerboard Bar, Spokane, WA - 5/24/2014

Checkboard Bar, Spokane, WA
The Checkboard Bar is a nifty little dive that appears to have been a favorite neighborhood joint for decades, become increasingly more sketchy for many years (along with this area of town), and then been considerably refurbished under new owners in 2010. Before the new ownership, the bar closed at 7pm and did not contain a public bathroom. It was then a beer only tavern, and indeed, claims to have the longest continuous liquor license in the state of Washington. Joe Heaton purchased the place in 1937 and ran it for over 50 years, becoming what locals described as the "best loved bartender in town."

The bar today has been upgraded and at least a little bit hipsterized. It now includes craft beers, hard liquor, better food, and, yes, a public bathroom. And yet we were informed by our bartender Rachel that they serve only doubles, for $3.50, and using good wells.

I would love to have more info on the early history of the place. There are a few reasons to question the oldest continuous license story. To begin with, these claims are not uncommon across older bars across the state, and they are very difficult to document -- e.g. age of licenses is not tracked by the state liquor board, and verifying virtually anything has been "continuous" across 84 years is dicey (a bartender at Maxwell House told me he knows periods when the Checkerboard has been closed). And I've been unable to find the Checkerboard or any bar listed at this address in any primary sources before 1937 -- e.g. it is not in the 1934 Spokane Polk directory, nor in the 1935 telephone directory.

But in any case it definitely has a lot of history behind it and is a nice joint for a drink.

1716 E Sprague Ave, Spokane, WA 99202 - (509) 535-4007                    
Est. 1933 - Building constructed: 1928
Previous bars in this location: None
Web site: checkerboardbar.com - facebook
Reviews: spokanedivebars - inlander - yelp - cityvoter

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