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Clark: Bob Apple’s bar has it all – except for a name

Sun., June 2, 2013

When we last left Bob Apple, the ex-Spokane city councilman was inviting one and all to his brand new South Hill sports bar for tons of fun on Super Bowl Sunday.

I even got caught up in all the excitement by holding a reader contest that, aside from wisecracks like “The Road Apple,” produced a positively genius name for the joint.

“The APP.”

But the Super Bowl came and went, alas.

Winter gave way to the potholes of spring.

And Apple’s bar?

No matter what he settles on calling it (Apple is an extraordinarily cautious man), the much-ballyhooed establishment has been a complete no-show.

But that was then. Apple now says his watering hole is but a month away from reality. He backed up this boast Friday morning by giving me a mini-tour of the cavernous place at 56th and Regal.

It’s a fine location, right in the heartland of Ferris High School country, where Apple graduated back in 1975.

When I was a kid, the area was home to several million groundhogs. Today, notes Apple, some 60,000 potential customers live within a mile of his long line of black barstools.

Now, I don’t normally get this involved with business openings. They usually crash and burn without any meddling from me.

But aiding Apple is a public service.

This is a guy who spent eight years on the City Council. Getting anyone away from that criminal enterprise and into the honest work of running a saloon is a victory for the people.

It is a bit ironic to hear the former councilman blaming the constipated system for holding up his bar.

Getting all those necessary licenses, etc., he says, took three months from the state and six months from the county. Such paperwork stalls, he adds, happen all the time.

There are “horror stories all over town,” Apple laments.

Despite my limited construction knowledge, I can see that Apple’s bar is in the last stages prior to opening.

Industrial chic is what he’s going for, judging by the all-black exposed ceilings, heavy white-and-rose wall tiles and stained cement floors.

Counting the beer garden, the bar is big enough to hold more than 200 customers. Apple plans to have a full-service kitchen and a staff of 15 employees.

It’s no wonder that the failure rate of bar/eateries is so high, what with the thousands of details that must be considered.

But this is not Apple’s first rodeo.

He paid his dues the hard way by running The Comet, the landmark Hillyard bar he sold a while back.

As a columnist, I’ll forever be indebted to Apple for the hilarious tiff he got into with the health department.

Apple stopped putting toilet paper in his bathrooms when too many Comet customers started pilfering the stuff.

Apple retaliated by initiating a unique system of potty protocol. Any patron feeling the urge had to get a roll of TP from the bartender, much like checking “Moby Dick” out of a library.

On the downside, owning a bar in rough-and-tumble Hillyard has turned Apple into a real nervous Nellie about coming up with a name.

Just days after Apple christened his bar The Comet, some of the resident barfly comics began gleefully calling it …

The Vomit.

That experience appears to have bruised Apple deeply, which explains his reticence for embracing Ron Silver’s winning contest entry.

To me, The APP is cool and hip, as in: “There’s an app for that.”

Very South Hill. Plus it ties in nicely with Apple’s name.

Whether it sticks or not, I’ll pay off Silver as promised, with some prizes and a drink at Apple’s bar when it opens.

But Apple says he tried The APP on some of his pals, with jaded results.

They told Apple that cynics would start calling his bar The “APP-(bleep)” as in ape-(bleep).

That is such a stretch.

What this anecdote actually reveals is something much deeper than putting a name above a bar.

Bob Apple needs some new and savvier friends.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or

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