The exterior of Sully's Snowgoose Saloon resembles a quaint fantastical shack located in the green hills of some fairy tale. Its white walls and pointy roof instantly make the place seem warm, quirky, and inviting. And it is all those things. Inside there's a fireplace, a big barrel full of peanuts, and nearly 30 taps of fine beer. Eater had a chance to chat with the owner of the Snowgoose, Mr. Sully himself, about the Phinney Ridge saloon's history, clientele, and more.
What sort of place would you call Sully's? What do you pride yourself on?
I'd say it's a place where anybody can afford to come in and have a drink. Our beers—a true 16 oz. microbrew—are $4.75 and I run specials all the time and keep lots of cost beers on tap so people who want an affordable drink can come in. It's a blue-collar place, we're working people.
Often during the day it's a lot of guys who come in and talk sports. People from all over the country come in and hang out, really. I keep the beer lines super clean, I clean them myself, in fact. Most people I've found aren't thorough enough.
What does a thorough cleaning entail?
I come in late at night and soak the beer lines overnight. Then I come in the next day and clean the faucets and then I clean the lines with cold, clear water. To your first question, the only thing I'd say is bad about this place is there are some guys who are territorial about their seats. You know how guys get—they want to mark off their territory. It's silly, really.
What are your best beer sellers here?
I'd say the Manny's and Roger's, also the Lagunitas. The Bale Breaker IPA from Yakima is selling well. We have 28 taps, 29 when we have a cask condition. The breweries aren't making enough cask condition these days, I have to always ask them and it takes a few weeks.
Would you say Sully's is a sports bar?
We like all sports here, including hockey. People come in for their local teams. We're big on local sports. Mark over there (points to a customer) is from Ohio. He's rooting for Ohio State tonight [in the college football championship.] We also have a hummingbird feeder outside and I really flower the place up in the summer, so it's inviting. Flowers do wonders on people's dispositions.
What's the history of Sully's?
I've owned the property since 1978 then I took over the business in 1995. It was a bar from 1933—the house was built in 1924—during prohibition. It was one of the first licensed taverns in Seattle, one of the first six, to be exact. I've owned it for quite a long time now. When I purchased the property my wife's grandmother and her sister went wild because they used to come in here when it first opened. In here, there's a lot of networking and word of mouth—lots of contractors, plumbers come in—everyone looks out for each other.
When I first opened up there was another Sully's. So I put Snowgoose on it because I like snow geese and it gives the place a mountain feel. When it snows out, those are my busiest days. Of course it doesn't snow anymore—thanks a lot, global warming!
It's a place where a lot of people come and have a good time. I plan on doing a little expansion, but I've been slow with that. I haven't even taken the Christmas lights down yet!