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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Citizen journal: Back in the day, ‘room’ cocktail lounges were all the rage

By Darin Krogh For The Spokesman-Review

Back in the 1940s and 1950s, the Cub Room was the most desired meeting place within the Stork Club, the famous nightclub in Manhattan. All the swells, writers, actors and celebrities gathered in that inner sanctum of the nightclub.

Naming a cocktail lounge as some kind of a “Room” continued to be fashionable through the 1950s and ’60s. During those decades, Spokane had an outbreak of cocktail lounges with the word “Room,” e.g., the Safari Room, King Cole Room, Donkey Room and my favorite, Monkey Room, a cocktail lounge in the Sillman Hotel which is gone and pretty much forgotten.

You would have to be a Spokane senior citizen to remember that the Sillman Hotel had caged gibbons in its cocktail lounge, hence the name, “Monkey Room.” Old-timers told me about the live monkeys and reported that the patrons entered the bar laughing and pointing at the monkeys and then roles reversed later in the night when the monkeys laughed and pointed at the patrons exiting the place at closing time.

Maybe people felt better about getting soused in a place called The Florentine Room, rather than The Bar, or The Lounge or The Saloon.

There are still a few “Room” cocktail lounges operating in Spokane, however, most have gone away and many of the buildings no longer exist. Now there is a Chevron gas station situated at Third Avenue and Monroe Street where the gibbons used to play in the Sillman Hotel’s Monkey Room.

“Coffee Bob” Irwin managed the Rockaway Restaurant at 501 W. Sprague Ave. in those days. Coffee Bob said the “Room” name for cocktail lounges was just another ’50s and ’60s fad, like hula hoops. Maybe he was right. Cocktail lounge names seem to have gone another way.

I hope you have been reading carefully because there is a quiz on this material.

Quiz

The numbered list on the left below names various “Room” cocktail lounges that have operated in Spokane over the years. The list on the right names the hotel or restaurant where the “Room” cocktail lounge was located. Try to match the cocktail room from the list on the left with the restaurant, hotel or address shown in the list on the right. Most of these cocktail lounges are dead and gone, however, a few, like the “Peacock Room” still operate (quite elegantly, thank you) and would correctly match up to “B. The Davenport Hotel.” If you are too young for this quiz, try it on a senior citizen who has been irritating you of late.

HINT: The correct matchup answer for No. 1 is A.” The correct matchup for 2 is B and the correct matchup answer for 3 is C. Do you see a pattern?

1. Safari Room (present) A. Davenport Tower

2. Peacock Room B. Davenport Hotel

3. King Cole Room C. Ridpath Hotel

4. Tanuki Room D. The Suki-Yaki Inn (119 N. Bernard St.)

5. Donkey Room E. Coeur d’Alene Hotel (228 N. Howard St.)

6. Monkey Room F. Sillman Hotel (Third Avenue and Monroe Street)

7. Show Case Room G. Vic’s (412 W. Riverside Ave.)

8. Starlite Room H. The Skylark Restaurant (518 W. Sprague Ave.)

9. Fez Room I. Obde’s (336 W. Riverside Ave.)

10. Trail Room J. The Rockaway (501 W. Sprague Ave.)

11. Monte Carlo Room K. The Trio restaurant (Northtown Office Building)

12. Apache Room L. Travo’s Restaurant (830 W. Sprague Ave.)

13. Playroom M. Knott’s Restaurant (428 W. Sprague Ave.)

14. Paddle Wheel Room O. The Show Boat Restaurant (1203 W. First Ave.)

15. Carriage Room P. The Coach House Restaurant (1107 W. First Ave.)

16. Empire Room Q. Empire Café (102 N. Division St.)

17. Stage Coach Room R. The Plantation (Sprague Avenue and Vista Road )

18. Florentine Room S. Phil’s Fine Foods Restaurant (118 N. Stevens St.)

19. Safari Room (past) T. The Flamingo Restaurant (N. 5505 Division St.)

20. Theater Room U. Allen’s Tin Pan Alley (412 W. Riverside Ave.)

21. Circus Room V. Desert Hotel (First Avenue and Post Street)

NOTE: Spokane’s cocktail crowd has had at least two “Safari” Rooms . One is gone but the other is open today in downtown Spokane.

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