Marnie Hayes didn’t intend to own a bar. But circumstances prevailed, the winds of business shifted and, now, she’s right where she wants to be.
Hayes is the owner and driving force behind Firehouse Pub in Buckley, a longtime establishment she has owned since 2010. It’s also the center of a success story that brings crowds to a sometimes sleepy downtown core.
Firehouse Pub is a Cheers-type venue where regulars occupy particular stools during Seahawks games. Staff and patrons know each other by name and many of the faces are beyond familiar. It’s an atmosphere Hayes covets.
“The people who come in and out of this place are genuinely some of the nicest people in the world,” she said on a weekday morning while preparing to open.
The recent evolution of the Firehouse involves its move to new quarters. It wasn’t much of a stretch, heading just a few doors down in the same block of Buckley’s Main Street, but it’s a tale that played out over the course of nine months.
Seeking a building she could call her own, Hayes took the plunge in 2017 and purchased the vacant space that had been D’Jon’s Restaurant. That was the beginning of an extensive remodel that saw crews working around the clock to get the new Firehouse open in time for the summer Log Show.
To say the building was gutted is not overstatement. The aging edifice was taken down to three walls, with the entire rear portion of the building removed. In its place came a separate room for pool tables and an outdoor seating area that filled during the warm, late-summer weather.
If the inside of the new Firehouse looks familiar, it’s by design. Hayes knows her loyal customer base and it’s a group that might have revolted had she gone new and fancy. So, the counter that dates back to the early 1900s was ripped from the previous space and manually hauled down a Main Street sidewalk to its new quarters. Tables and stools were moved as well, rather than buying new.
The move, Hayes explained, allowed much more than an opportunity to own a piece of downtown Buckley.
It also allowed her to open a companion diner, dubbed Lumberjack’s. With a separate Main Street entry, it’s small but family-friendly. The menu is the same as found next door, but can be enjoyed by all ages. So can the sundae bar that’s available daily.
It’s a split shift at Lumberjack’s, which is open 6 to 11 a.m. and again from 4 to 9 p.m. Hayes saw a demand for a breakfast and is now better positioned for a take-out business that continues to grow.
For Hayes, a bright spot in the entire process was the support of the community. That included some rushed hours immediately before Log Show when friends pitched in to assure a timely opening. When possible, Hayes used local contractors and she gushes about the financial expertise provided by Columbia Bank in Enumclaw.
It was a learning process for all involved, she said, “and they held my hand through the entire thing.”
With a tumultuous year behind her, Hayes is now focused on keeping the Firehouse Pub just the type of place her regulars have come to expect. There are no great changes in the works and certainly no expansion plans.
“The Firehouse has always been someone else’s starter bar,” she said. “This is my ending bar.”