After sitting empty for more than 20 years, downtown Tacoma’s historic Elks Lodge reopens today as a hotel, music venue, brewery, several bars, and a restaurant under the quirky McMenamins brand, which has properties around the Northwest. Like the company’s other buildings, the Elks Temple, as McMenamins has renamed it, honors the past with a thoughtful restoration and plenty of added quirks, from graffiti art to tropical decor and hot dogs slathered with peanut butter.
The 1915 property, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, took a decade to remake. The building (565 Broadway) now houses 45 hotel rooms overlooking Commencement Bay; a McMenamins Pub that seats 250 on the fourth floor; the Old Hangout Bar, with cocktails and food served daily; The Spanish Bar, with tapas and drinks; Doc’s Bar, a 21-and-over game room with shuffleboard, pool, and pinball; a bottle shop and brewery tasting room that also serves espresso; a seven barrel brewery; and the Spanish Ballroom, a 700-person capacity concert hall.
The Old Hangout Bar sounds particularly intriguing. It was formerly the Elks Lodge locker room and swimming pool. The custom-built bar is accented by recycled materials, including oil barrels and tin from the building’s original roof. The bar leans slightly tropical, with a fire pit, bamboo detailing, and a waterfall. Classic drinks like the Mai Tai, pisco sour, and old fashioned making the cut, and they’re all served in over-the-top glasses. The food ranges from sliders to wings to a hot dog topped with peanut butter and a burger with pineapple sambal.
While McMenamins is known more for its personality than outstanding food and drink, it’s heartening to see new life breathed into one of downtown Tacoma’s most prominent buildings.