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Tavern traditions still on tap at North Monroe Street beer parlors

As you might expect at 6 p.m. on a Monday, the televisions at The Hub Tavern on North Monroe were tuned to “Monday Night Football” – well, except for one TV tucked in a corner at the end of the long bar.

“That’s the hockey TV,” explained owner Dave Richardson.

When he and his family bought The Hub six years ago, they tried not to mess with a good thing, but Richardson, a Massachusetts native, couldn’t resist bringing his love of hockey to the neighborhood joint.

Hockey sticks hang from the ceiling. A stencil of a hockey helmet and beard is etched on the door, providing a popular selfie photo op – and of course there’s the dedicated hockey television.

“I grew up playing hockey. I played for 20 years and coached as a young man,” Richardson said. “My son was on the ice at 2 1/2.”

He may have added the hockey theme, but he didn’t mess with the menu.

“We knew the previous owner and inherited the clientele,” he said. “We managed not to mess up ‘their’ bar.”

The establishment is strictly cash only. You can still get four tunes for a dollar on the jukebox, or try your hand at shuffleboard. But you won’t find any fancy mixed drinks or liquor here. The Hub is one of the few remaining taverns in Spokane.

According to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, a tavern license means an establishment can only sell beer or wine.

Spokane Valley has just three licensed taverns – two breweries and one cider house.

Of the 13 licensed taverns in Spokane, four are paint-and-sip places, two are cideries, one is a brewery, one is a wine bar and one is a spa/salon – leaving just four traditional taverns. Two of those four, The Hub and Moezy Inn, are on North Monroe Street.

Richardson said The Hub is the second-oldest tavern in Spokane.

“In the early 1920s it was a butcher shop,” he said. “But they made more money selling beer out the back door than beef out front.”

The building has been The Hub since 1934. Original wood-trimmed glass cabinets behind the bar house the tavern’s selection of 70 different beers.

“We have cans and bottles from all over and 10 taps,” said Richardson, who honed his love of beer while stationed in Germany during his stint with the Air Force.

A regular named Donny Wilton eschewed the fancy stuff and nursed a can of Budweiser.

“I’ve been coming here for 12 years,” he said.

Six-dollar pitchers of domestics are available all day, every day, and are hugely popular, as is the Hubcorn. The tavern’s tasty popcorn is served up in paper boats.

While wine is an afterthought at many taverns, at The Hub you can order a nice glass of vino from Arbor Crest or Maryhill Winery.

There’s a patio and beer garden, but no parking lot – a point of concern with the pending Monroe Street project.

Richardson shrugged.

“We can survive the eight months it will take,” he said.

His son went to culinary school, and they plan to add a full kitchen, but that will have to wait. For now, Richardson is enjoying the ride.

“I get to meet a lot of neat people, and I get to tell a lot of bad jokes.”

A mellow crowd

A few blocks away at Moezy Inn Tavern, owner Jason Huston echoed Richardson’s sentiments.

“Interacting with people is the best part of my job,” he said.

He and his family bought the landmark tavern in 1999.

“My parents had been coming here since the early ’70s,” Huston said. “Their friends owned it.”

The structure, built in 1901, began as a blacksmith shop.

“They used to shoe horses here,” he said. “But since 1945 it’s been the Moezy Inn. Moe was the name of the original owner.”

When the Hustons bought the business, they kept it just as it was, feeling no need to add liquor to the offerings.

“It’s been a tavern for 72 years,” Huston said.

He and Richardson both said that beer drinkers are a mellow crowd and adding liquor to the mix just isn’t worth the hassle.

With seven taps and 18 varieties of cans and bottles, the regulars can be sure their favorite brews are on hand.

Moezy Inn’s biggest seller?

“Budweiser,” said Huston, grinning.

The dimly lit room with the horseshoe-shaped bar was full, as usual, on a Monday night. Hoots, cheers and disgusted boos rang out as the Seahawks struggled against the Falcons.

One patron, dolled up in Seahawk finery, was noticeably silent.

“That’s Flo,” Huston explained. “She moves around a bit, and is dressed up for most occasions.”

Flo is a mannequin his brothers found in Newport, Washington. She quickly became a fixture and always sports game-day attire.

This neighborhood hangout has a beer garden and large parking lot and also offers poker, pool and pinball.

One of the pinball games features another slice of Spokane history.

“My dad got high score on the Dragon pinball, and won the machine when it was at Critter McCoon’s,” Huston said.

Critter McCoon’s was a restaurant located where Five Mile Heights Pizza Parlor is today.

Each Thursday, the tavern hosts a poker tournament with a $20 buy-in. Pool and dart tournaments are held weekly as well.

Signed dollar bills are taped to the ceiling around the bar. You don’t have to do anything to get your money posted. Just sign it and a bartender will take care of the rest.

“The stars of ‘Storage Wars’ signed a couple when they were in town,” Huston said.

But make no mistake: The Moezy Inn Tavern is no tourist mecca. They’re proud of their dive bar designation. For locals, this is their “Cheers,” where everybody knows their name.

Regulars Dan and Tina O’Leary have been coming here since the Hustons purchased the tavern.

Dan raised his Miller High Life. “I’m a big beer person,” he said.

Most days he heads to the Moezy after work, where Tina meets him.

She sipped a Miller Light and fondly recalled a birthday party thrown for her by Huston’s late mother.

“This is our home,” she said. “This is our family.”

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