September 5, 2008 in Seven

The new MarQuee event

Spokane welcomes high-end lounge
Tom Bowers Taste Of The Town Staff writer
Rajah Bose photo

Bartenders mix up drinks at MarQuee, a new downtown Spokane lounge that includes an upstairs bar and VIP section.
(Full-size photo)

MarQuee Lounge

522 W. Riverside Ave.

Hours: Daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m.

When Bluefish and Bistango opened in fall 2005, there was a question as to whether Spokane could support two neo-retro martini lounges.

That they’ve survived – and thrived – for so long in a market that continues to welcome similar spots proves that, yes, Spokane loves high-end cocktails. One could even go so far as to say that 2005 marked the year martini bars became en vogue in Spokane.

If that’s the case, then 2008 may go down as the year someone spiked our martini with steroids. And if so, it’ll be thanks to the MarQuee Lounge.

The buzz started in spring when black fencing spilled out of the former Wells Fargo Bank building, 522 W. Riverside Ave., and into the brick courtyard at Parkade Plaza, nearly barricading the neighboring Cap’n Juicy’s and Santorini’s storefronts.

“Oh, look, must be another martini bar,” a friend commented at the time, after noticing the Y-shaped glass used in the “Q” in MarQuee.

After taking the tour, I can safely say it looks to be “another martini bar” in the same way “Dark Knight” was another Batman movie.

Meaning it’s bigger, darker and it ups the ante.

“We wanted to set it up so there’d be different environments and different atmospheres for different demographics,” co-owner Jeremy Tangen said of the giant, multi-level space and its roomy main ballroom floor, upstairs bar and VIP section.

To that end, Tangen and his two business partners, Shane Rice and longtime scene veteran Matt Goodwin (of Fast Eddie’s and The Blvd.), decided to pack the main room with a younger, dancier crowd that’ll likely be awestruck by the looming wall-o-booze behind the bar.

Upstairs houses two dimly lit lounge rooms, one of which has a full bar and can be reserved for private parties with a minimum tab agreement that varies depending on crowd and event.

The other upstairs room conceals one of the two most unique features of the MarQuee Lounge: the VIP section, complete with private liquor lockers.

For a paltry $2,000, discerning drinkers can rent a locker for one year, which they then stock with a private liquor stash purchased through the bar.

This idea isn’t unique only to Spokane. Tangen says that as far as he knows, MarQuee is the only place in the state to offer the service.

MarQuee’s other touch of class comes in the place you’d least expect: the men’s bathroom.

No, it’s not the minimalistic black décor. It’s much more interesting – something most people have only seen in movies:

MarQuee Lounge has a Friday and Saturday night bathroom attendant.

“He hands you a towel,” Tangen said. “He’ll turn on the faucet for you. If you want gum, a lighter, a condom, whatever it might be, this guy’s the guy who takes care of that for you.”

To keep with the idea of having an old-school touch for this new-school venue, the women’s bathroom doesn’t have an attendant.

It does, however, feature the loudest décor in the entire place, with two-tone pink walls and tile, ornate lighting and bright red stalls.

“It’s more or less a talking point that we wanted to bring in for the women,” Tangen said. “A lot of people like it, a lot of people don’t. It’s very pink.”

If anything can be said for the MarQuee Lounge and its creators this early in the game, it’s this:

Whether we’re talking private liquor lockers, bathroom attendants or a willingness to go full-pink, the MarQuee guys dream big.

Like their predecessors at Bistango and Bluefish, they’re looking at the Spokane scene and trying to feel out the next step, whatever that may be.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email