Editor’s Note: This issue of the Weekender features bars from the Greater Lewis County area. We highlight five bars, including the newest one on the scene — McFiler’s in downtown Chehalis — and add a list of over 30 establishments.
By Katie Hayes / The Weekender
McFiler’s, a new bar in downtown Chehalis, stems from almost every bartender’s dream — opening a bar with your best friends.
“For years, I complained about working a dead-end job at the Hub,” said Tim Filer, one of McFiler’s three owners. “I hit 30 and was like, ‘man, I’m still doing the same thing I was doing 10 years ago.’ There was nowhere left to go. I was the manager at the Hub at the time, so I had pretty much hit the cap. I was looking down the barrel of the next 20 years.”
That’s when Eddie McNally, a longtime best friend, suggested the two begin putting away money to purchase their own bar. Filer, Eddie McNally and his brother Patrick McNally finally pulled the trigger last spring, and bought the building which once housed Rumors Bar & Grill.
Filer and Eddie McNally worked with their family and friends to completely renovate the building over six months. Patrick McNally, who lives in Texas and works for SpaceX, designed the floor and deck plans.
“Neither one of us had been inside the building again in years,” said Filer of the first time he and Eddie McNally toured the building. “I would say it was probably three years from the last time I had actually stepped inside the building. … We came in and it was disheveled, and really dirty and it was pretty gnarly inside. It still had the carpet from the ‘70s on the floor.”
Filer told Eddie McNally what he envisioned for their bar — moving the pool tables, bar and kitchen toward the back, opening up floor space in the front and building a stage.
“He was like ‘okay, let’s do it,’” Filer said.
Filer and Eddie McNally originally met at the Hub Bar & Grill on Filer’s 21st birthday. Filer was a few White Russians in.
“I had like seven or eight of them on my 21st birthday,” Filer said. “(I) had just met Eddie and immediately clicked with the guy. So we were just hanging out, and partying together, and I was like, ‘dude I think I’m going to be sick.’ … He helped carry me out to the ivy bushes and I proceeded to throw up in the ivy bushes outside. We have been best friends ever since then.”
Less than a year later, the two started a band together. They tried two different local bands before moving onto an experimental electronica band called “Henry Rollins’ Neck.”
“It wasn’t well received,” Filer said.
“We played two shows,” Eddie McNally added. “People hated it.”
Then, the two turned their sights toward opening their own bar. Filer said they started seriously considering the proposition about six or seven years ago. For the past four years, they have been ready for the opportunity.
Eddie McNally owns a software development company in Portland and has never owned a bar.
His answer was simple when asked why he wanted he became involved — “Because I like going to bars,” he said. “… Like, why not, right?”
It was the first time either Filer or Eddie McNally had ever taken on a major renovation. Owning a property downtown and dealing with city permits were new experiences for both of them.
“We were kind of flying blind,” Filer said. “The ladies at the city planner’s office were — I mean they held our hand through all of it to an almost embarrassing extent. But they never got edgy, they never got weird about it. They were just like, ‘Okay, this is what you need to do next.’”
The owners didn’t contract any of the work during the six-month renovation.
“Me, my dad, my mother-in-law, Eddie — we did all of the interior demo and the rebuild all ourselves,” Filer said.
The owners said the current food menu is tentative and will grow. Eddie McNally said McFiler’s mostly serves burgers and sandwiches at this time. Additionally, McFiler’s is compiling its craft cocktail list, which is set to include many prohibition-era drinks. The bar allows all ages until 11 p.m.
“It’s not a pipe dream,” said Filer, when asked what he would tell other bartenders who want to start their own bar. “Get lucky and just don’t be afraid to make the leap.”
After 99 Years, Brown Shack Remains a Salkum Hub
For 99 years, the Brown Shack Tavern has been a consistent gathering place for the colorful and thirsty folks of East Lewis County.
Located just a stone’s throw to the north of U.S. Highway 12 in Salkum, the Brown Shack is a hidden little gem preserved in a way that only a near century’s worth of tavern lacquer can muster. For starters, it is the only 21-and-older establishment in Lewis County that serves only beer and wine, while eschewing the temptations of hard liquor.
“It’s always been a tavern since 1920,” said Roxy Cupp, owner of the Brown Shack Tavern. As the years have passed, more and more old-time taverns turned to full liquor service saloons and bars.
“It’s kind of nostalgic and it keeps the riff-raff away,” said Cupp.
According to Cupp, the tavern typically draws an older, and often retired, crowd, although, “We bring in a lot of younger people on the weekends,” when there is live music.
The absence of hard alcohol usually keeps the rabble rousers at bay though, and the regulars seem to enjoy the hassle-free atmosphere.
“We actually have a pretty good day business here,” said Amanda Fry, who has tended bar at the Brown Shack for the past nine years. “Weekends are definitely busier though … we have karaoke, live music and everything.”
Providing entertainment, in its many incarnations, has been a major focus for Cupp since she purchased the tavern in 2014.
“I’ve just tried to liven the place up a bit,” she said.
They have video bowling tournaments, and a 9-ball pool tournament as well as karaoke and live music. They recently added a full menu of food.
The music is typically “old country,” with some rockabilly and bluegrass.
“I love bluegrass!” said Cupp, who added that she’s also put more food options on the menu and a wider array of beers in the cooler in order to keep the masses entertained.
“Owning your own bar is a lot of work. You have to prove yourself,” said Cupp.
Prior to purchasing the Brown Shack, Cupp had no experience tending bar, let alone owning one.
“I just kind of heard through the grapevine that it was for sale, so I bought it,” explained Cupp. She added, “I always had a great time every time I came here. I just love the people. They’re all so down to earth.”
Unlike some small town watering holes though, strangers are welcomed at the Brown Shack.
“I always tell my girls if you don’t know a person you better get to know them. Treat them like your regulars,” said Cupp. “That’s paid off already.”
— Weekender reporter Jordan Nailon
‘Snoose Creek’ Flows at the Historic Brooklyn Tavern
The historic Brooklyn Tavern, a landmark of Western Washington’s backroad culture, has an owner who is committed to preserving the age-old traditions of the out-of-the-way watering hole.
Larry Viguerie, Oakville, completed his purchase of the Brooklyn Tavern in 2016 and he has been busy rounding the place into shape since then.
“When I took it over the grass was cow high. We just about had to get a hay harvester in here to cut it down,” said Viguerie.
Viguerie retired from the lumber industry
“I don’t like to golf so much. I’m tired of fishing and I don’t hunt anymore, so this is what I want to do. I enjoy keeping it up,” explained Viguerie. “I didn’t even tell my wife I was buying it because she would have tried to talk me out of it, but I needed a real reason to get up in the morning and now I’ve got it. I’m just happier than heck.”
Viguerie first came to the Brooklyn Tavern years ago when his friends told him it was a fun place to go. Right off the bat he enjoyed the crowd and thought the logging paraphernalia decor provided a unique atmosphere. That feeling didn’t budge over the years and subsequent beers, so when he heard the tavern might close he felt uniquely inclined to act.
The former owners, Warren and Ciara Brough, had been in charge since 2013.
“I was trying to keep the tavern from closing. I knew it was getting close to closing and the main goal was to keep it open,” said Viguerie, who lamented nearby watering holes that have closed in recent years, including “the Porter Tavern, the tavern in Oakville and The Red Barn.”
He repaired the tavern’s signature feature, which is a free-flowing spitoon at the bar known affectionately as Snoose Creek. It is a unique feature the tavern shares in common with The Brick in Roslyn, of so much “Northern Exposure” fame.
— Weekender reporter Jordan Nailon
Judy and Robert Wall Are the Fifth Generation to Run Popular Business
One-hundred-twenty years ago, Joe’s Place became the watering hole for a one-horse town.
Today, much has changed — customers talk on their cellphones in the neon-lit bar, a DJ rolls his gear in a few times each week — but more has stayed the same.
Joe’s is still the Bucoda hangout; the original wooden bar remains. Judy and Robert Wall are the fifth generation to run Joe’s, which has been family owned since 1898.
That family history, the timeline of Joe’s Place, hangs on the walls.
The decor commemorates the bar’s founder, who died behind the bar and was laid out on a nearby couch. A prison roster chronicles the names — and crimes — of many of the original local residents. And photos memorialize the many iterations of the bar, including the current building’s wooden predecessor, which burned to the ground during a 1930 fire that destroyed the block (per regulation, the building is now concrete).
Judy and Robert never were sure they wanted to step into the family tradition.
But when Robert’s mother died eight years ago, she left them the bar — and they took the helm.
Judy is glad they did.
“There’s a lot of history here, a lot of old friends,” she said. “We just go from day to day, and we’ve managed to keep going.”
Joe’s Place still has loyal customers.
Most of the steam plant mine workers who used to go to Bucoda to cash their checks or get a bite have moved away, but many come back to visit the bar.
“They’re maybe from Wyoming or Montana, and they make a trip over here,” Judy said. “They have to stop to see if we’re still here.”
— Weekender reporter Lisa Broadt
Jones Creek Brewery
Pe Ell Brewery Offers Its Own Beers On Tap
Jones Creek Brewing owners Tim and Mirinda Moriarty opened the brewery, located just outside of Pe Ell in November 2017. Tim Moriarty said his parents bought the property in 2011, and that same year bought him a home brewing kit.
“It spiraled out of control really fast,” he joked.
In 2014, the Moriartys moved to Lewis County.
“They said ‘we will fund the brewery if you build it,’” Tim Moriarty said. “So we decided we are taking this crazy adventure and will see how it goes.”
Jones Creek Brewing keeps eight of its own beers on tap, as well as a guest cider.
The brewery is located in the Willapa Hills, 1.5 miles north of Pe Ell at 173 Beam Road.
— Weekender reporter Katie Hayes
Other Area Watering Holes:
All In, Onalaska
Artic Tavern, Cosmopolis
Big Bottom, Randle
Blue Spruce Saloon, Packwood
Brooklyn Tavern, Cosmopolis
Brown Shack, Salkum
Bub’s Pub, Centralia
Donna’s Place, Toledo
Hub Tavern, Centralia
Joe’s Place, Bucoda
Jones Creek Brewing, Pe Ell
Limit Bar and Grill, Centralia
Market Street Pub, Chehalis
Pe Ell Pub, Pe Ell
Tall Timber, Randal
Tombstone Willey’s, Raymond
Tower Tavern, Centralia