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Bars where Pete has had a drink

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#2549 - Milton Tavern, Milton, WA - 5/31/2014

Milton Tavern, Milton WA

Due east of Tacoma, Washington lies the small city of Milton, named after a 17th century English poet because the United States Post Office would not allow them to use a two-word name -- not to mention that there was already a Mill Town in Washington. The mill had gone up on the hill in the 1890s, and the city incorporated in 1907. "Milton gradually shed it’s dependency on timber and grew into a bedroom community mainly for those who commuted to the larger, surrounding cities to work. Milton started to provide its own electricity in the 1930’s, and later experienced a burst of both geographic and economic growth due to a 1.8 million-dollar sewer project completed in 1971." (

Milton Tavern, Milton, WA
I do not know exactly how long the Milton Tavern has been here, but it's been since at least 1941, and probably sometime in the 30s. The building is said to have been constructed in 1928, orginally hosting a gas station and grocery store, and also, it is rumored, a speakeasy in back. For many years it operated as both tavern and gas station. You might assume that a small town tavern off the smaller highway was fairly divey, and indeed for many years the joint had a reputation as a smokey and occasionally violent biker bar. But that changed when Chris Gruzek bought it in 1987. Gruzek and his wife Nancy ran it from that point until finally giving up the ghost in late 2016, after years of struggling in the aftermath of the 2008 recession.

Milton Tavern, Milton, WA
(Tacoma Public Library)
Gruzek also owned the historic Mint in Enumclaw, and his father ran the Drift On Inn north of Seattle. Chris and Nancy cleaned and remodeled the place, added windows, paved the parking lot, planted flowers, banned smoking, added eventually 31 taps along with hard liquor, and opened the doors to families during the daytime. Their large menu of pub food featured "gourmet" hot dogs and pizza, and they established a local reputation for good pizza, to which I can personally attest.

One hopes that someone will eventually revive the old place, but the Gruzeks note that a health inspection has found deisel in the ground, making a sale by the bank more problematic.

7320 Pacific Hwy E, Milton, WA 98354 - (253) 922-3340                    
Est. 1941 - Closed Oct 13, 2016 - Building constructed: 1928
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site: - facebook
Articles ranked: seattletimes - miltonedgewoodsignal - northwestmilitarynorthwestmilitary - yelp - tripadvisor

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