Landmarks: Jack and Dan’s has deep roots in Gonzaga district
One of just a handful of beer parlors that have remained in continuous operation since the end of Prohibition in 1933, Jack and Dan’s at 1226 N. Hamilton St., may be the most well known in Spokane. It’s known for many reasons, particularly for the notables associated with it, but what its owners take pride in is that this landmark, now on the Spokane Register of Historic Places, truly is a neighborhood bar where everyone knows your name.
“I could pretty much put a name to everyone who comes in here between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.,” owner Jeff Condill said recently. About half the customers – whether they’re there for drinks or lunch or dinner – come from the neighborhood. They’re the regulars. Condill and his business partner, Kevin MacDonald, have a comfortable, easy relationship with patrons. Recently, for example, Condill called over to a customer that he hadn’t seen him a while. “Sure hope you didn’t pay the ransom” came the reply.
The other 50 percent of Jack and Dan’s clientele is students and others associated with the tavern’s most famous neighbor, Gonzaga University. There’s been a long, informal relationship between the two, perhaps most evident when Jack Stockton (the Jack of Jack and Dan’s) owned the place and installed satellite dishes on the roof so patrons could watch Utah Jazz games during the 19 years that Jack’s son John Stockton, the former Gonzaga basketball standout, played in the NBA.
It’s an unassuming two-story brick building built in 1909 for the Pioneer Educational Society, the financial arm of the Jesuits in the Pacific Northwest. It was likely designed by Preusse & Zittel architects, a firm used exclusively by the PES and the Jesuits of Gonzaga. Additional evidence for who the architects were include common design details also seen in St. Aloysius Catholic Church on Gonzaga’s campus, designed by Preusse & Zittel and also completed in 1909.
Originally the structure was divided into commercial spaces on the main floor and two apartments upstairs. Several pharmacies occupied the north end of the building over the years, the most recent being University Pharmacy from 1939 to its closing in 2004. The Sontag Grocery and meat market operated on the south side of the structure until 1934, when the Snappy Beer Parlor took over the space.
In 1947 Joey’s Tavern began operation there, under the ownership of Joey August, the famed Gonzaga boxing coach who took the college’s team to an NCAA national boxing title in 1950. When the boxing program was discontinued, he bought a beer distributorship in 1952 and went on to become a famous figure in local sports, the beverage industry and philanthropy. Jack Stockton and his childhood friend Dan Crowley bought the place in 1961 but waited 14 years before renaming it Jack and Dan’s. Jack Stockton attended Gonzaga but left in 1951 just short of earning his degree. He smiles now when he admits, “I figured I had nothing else to learn, so I left.”
When asked to share some colorful stories of days at Jack and Dan’s, he smiles again and says slowly, “Well, I think I’d best not do that.” In 1991 Jeff Condill, who received a degree in finance from Gonzaga in 1986, bought out Dan Crowley’s share of the business and stayed in business with Jack Stockton until Condill’s friend Kevin MacDonald, another Gonzaga student, bought Jack’s share in 2006. And while Condill and MacDonald own the business, the building itself is owned by John Stockton.
It’s still a close-knit, Gonzaga-centered neighborhood operation. It’s also a storied site where sportswriters gathered, where fans of all stripes come for true sports bar ambience and where Jesuits hold Theology on Tap, an evening happy hour for students over age 21 who want to discuss spirituality in a more relaxed setting. Tommy Lasorda, the former Spokane Indians and Los Angeles Dodgers manager, would come by to discuss games, and now ESPN personnel in town for a Gonzaga basketball game stop in.
The building has had some modifications over the years and certainly has seen some sports greats come through its doors, but its status as a sports bar of note made national headlines in a 1992 Sports Illustrated story when it was identified as the neighborhood connection for three of Spokane’s famous boys from the immediate area – NBA hall of famer John Stockton, the Chicago Cubs’ and Baseball hall of famer Ryne Sandberg and Mark Rypien, quarterback and MVP for the Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins. A copy of that story graces one of the walls at Jack and Dan’s.
Even so, at its heart it’s still a neighborhood place. Jack Stockton, who is now 85 and, lives two blocks away, stops in often for a cup of coffee. He notes that he grew up in the neighborhood, went to school in the neighborhood and saw the potential for that business in the neighborhood – and so he stayed.
Again he smiles. “It’s funny, I’ve only managed to come four blocks in 80-some years of life. It’s been good for me here, and I think we did it right.”