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A&E >  Food

Logan Tavern brings a neighborhood vibe to former Bulldog building

They used to hang out here, back when it was the Bulldog.

The three friends worked across the street, often pretty late. This spot was convenient – and happening. Located across the street from campus and named in honor of its mascot, the Bulldog for 65 years was a popular gathering place for Gonzaga University students.

None of these three went to GU.

“But I feel like I had the GU experience,” said Nehemiah Zilar, who – along with J.D. Winn and Erik Morris – are now business partners in the Logan Tavern in the same space that once housed their beloved Bulldog.

“It was kind of a revolving door after the Bulldog,” Zilar said of the location, noting that after the longtime watering hole closed, the building was home to Chairs Public House, then Scotty’s Doghouse, which closed in December.

The trio wondered, Zilar said, “When is something going to stick?”

Then they got to thinking it might be their “something.”

The friends officially opened Logan Tavern at the end of February, transforming what had been a bar with more of a nightclub feel to a neighborhood pub that caters not only to college students but people who live in the community beyond the academic year.

They even named it for the neighborhood.

“We want to be a neighborhood spot,” Zilar said. And, “We love this neighborhood. We’ve been in it a long time.”

Morris opened the Pita Pit across the street in 2006. Winn worked as the general manager and eventually helped Morris launch a second location on the South Hill. Zilar slung pitas.

“We were the pita guys,” he said. “When we first opened, we were the only pita game in town.”

Zilar, a 2005 Rogers High School grad who was born and raised in Spokane, worked there for four years before moving to Seattle, where he got into bartending. He moved back after three years, in 2013, and began bartending at the now-closed Jones Radiator. Two years later, he helped open the Observatory in downtown Spokane.

Morris and Winn remain in the pita game and have since expanded to Pullman. In 2017, Morris was the chain’s franchisee of the year.

They help out at Logan Tavern as much as they can, Zilar said. But he manages the day-to-day operations of the place.

The trio took over the space in late December, getting to work on remodeling the bar the day after Christmas.

“The bar before was a nightclub. We just wanted to make this cozy and comfortable,” Zilar said, adding, “Our changes were mostly cosmetic.”

They painted, redid the floors, updated the bar, removed a railing, installed Edison bulbs and removed booths as well as a deejay booth to open up space for a pool table and shuffleboard.

They were going for a vibe that was casual, modern and friendly.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own bar for the community side of it, the social side, where you get to know your regulars,” said Zilar, 31. “Now here we are, owning the bar we used to drink in.”

Winn, 32, agreed. “I like the people aspect of it,” he said.“It’s not a cubicle job.”

The friends own the business but are leasing the building.

Eric McGraw, the head chef, came here from the Manito Country Club, where his Chop Chop Chicken Sandwich was a hit.

It is here, too.

Logan Tavern specializes in elevated pub grub. Look for loaded fries and nachos, chicken wings, fried pickles and assorted burgers and sandwiches. The Chop Chop features marinated and seared chicken breast topped with grilled onions, mayo, diced bacon, green onions and Provolone on a pretzel bun.

Look, also, for the Ultimate Grilled Cheese with Parmesan-crusted sourdough bread stuffed with cheddar and Provolone, onion and bacon. Add an egg for $2.

The Kennel Wrap includes crispy chicken, blue cheese dressing and crumbles, tomato, lettuce, and cucumber in a garlic-herb tortilla, while the

Bulldog is a beer-braised beef brat charboiled and topped with cheese, onion and bacon and served on a pretzel bun.

There’s a BLT, too, along with a club sandwich, classic Caesar salad, baked mac and cheese and two kinds of burgers. The Hippie comes with a black bean patty, Provolone, smashed avocado and salsa. The Tavern comes with a beef patty, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and mayo.

For an appetizer or shareable, consider the Pint O’Bacon, which features apple wood-smoked bacon glazed with bourbon and brown sugar.

“It’s meat dessert,” Zilar said.

On the flip side, there’s the Pint O’ Doughnuts, served with a side of sweetened cream cheese.

Happy hour is 2 to 5 pm. Monday through Friday and all day Sunday with a dollar off well drinks and microbrews and $2 off shareables.

The signature cocktail is the General, named for Gen. John A. Logan, the neighborhood’s namesake. It features an absinthe rinse, vodka, elderflower liqueur and grapefruit juice.

Logan was a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was also a statesman, serving as a state senator in Illinois as well as a Congressman and U.S. senator. There’s a photo of him in the bathroom.

“He had a pretty killer mustache,” Winn said.

Another bathroom is Bing Crosby-themed. The crooner attended GU and lived in the neighborhood. His childhood home is now a museum that’s part of campus.

The Creamsicle features whipped cream vodka and orange juice. Other specialty drinks include a Midori sour, gimlet, margarita, and dark and stormy.

Under the menu category of “Shots Everyone Should Try At Least Once,” look for the Undergrad, a shot of whiskey and a pickle back, as well as the Ken Kazner, a shot of spicy tequila with a cider back, and the Jager Barrel, or Jägermeister and root beer.

Look for daily specials, too. Tuesdays, it’s tacos and tequila. (Two dollars off tequila and $2 tacos.) Wednesdays, it’s whiskey and wings. (Two dollars off whiskey and half off the wings.) And Saturday and Sunday, it’s brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Budget Bloody, for $5, features vodka and bloody mary mix and a bacon salt rim. The $12 Ultimate Bloody includes half of a grilled cheese sandwich, bacon, roasted jalapeno and a meat straw.

Mimosas are $3 each. Or, opt for the You Do You Mimosa: a bottle of bubbly and a carafe of orange juice.

Brunch eats include a breakfast burrito, Spanish frittata, poutine and something called the Morning After, which comes with three biscuits smothered in sausage gravy. The 1305, meanwhile, comes with two eggs and three slices of bacon, potatoes and a side of toast.

“We’re not the Bulldog. We’re not trying to be the Bulldog,” Zilar said. “But it’s cool to see people come in and sit where they used to sit when it was the Bulldog and say it feels more like the Bulldog than the last couple of places. That’s a nice compliment. That’s the vibe that we’re shooting for.”

They’re also planning to stick around.

“We’re pretty confident,” Zilar said. “What makes us think that we’ll be able to stay in here? Ask me in three or four years when we’ve outlasted the other bars.”

Meantime, he said, “Our friends will always need a watering hole. They’ll always know where to find me.”

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