Out with the old, in with the new

Examining the evolution of Buckley’s Firehouse Pub.

One of the first indications that a small, isolated, rural town has become part of the suburban sprawl of a large, metropolitan center — i.e., Enumclaw relative to Seattle — is the disappearance of the town’s original, rustic and rowdy taverns. For example, Enumclaw used to have five or six such funky saloons. Now there aren’t any. They’ve been torn down or remodeled — and, if remodeled, they’ve now evolved into pleasant restaurants, like the Rainier and the Mint, which are more appealing to the “refined” tastes of suburbanites. It would be nice if some of those old taverns had survived, but that’s simply not the case.

The same thing has happened to Buckley. Thirty or 40 years ago, Buckley’s downtown strip had three or four old, provincial hobnail saloons. Today they’re gone and the spaces they occupied are left vacant or replaced by quaint, little boutiques and antique stores. (Alas, Buckley’s entire downtown district has seen better days.)

The last of Buckley’s “down-home” taverns was probably Boyle’s Tavern, which eventually evolved into the Logger’s Inn. Then, in November 2000, B. J. Williams, a Microsoft exec, teamed up with Scott Nall, also of Microsoft, and they cashed in enough stock options to purchase the old place. (Talk about the influence of suburban/metropolitan mentality!) The place had been closed for some time and the floor was so rotten a refrigerator was falling through it. After several months of extensive rebuilding and remodeling, they opened the Firehouse Pub. It offered hard liquor and resembled a pizza pub you might find on “The Ave” in Seattle’s University District. (What else would you expect from the mentality behind it?) In short order, it became the most active, exciting club in downtown Buckley. More accurately, it was the only active, exciting club. The only other bar and restaurant in the region was D’Jon’s, but it was closed half the time; that is, it was closed, then opened, then closed, and then, perhaps, open again.

Shortly after the Firehouse demonstrated how popular and profitable it was, Williams and Nall sold the place and moved on to other endeavors. If I recall correctly, the place changed hands a few more times after that.

Then in 2012, Marnie Hayes arrived on the scene and bought the Pub from Jason and Bonney Shaffer. She also wanted to buy the building but was unable to do so. Then, 2019, D’Jon’s was thrown on the market and Marnie quickly purchased it.

Within the next few months, she completely gutted the place. She planned to replicate the original Pub and that’s precisely what she did. I mean, she knocked out walls, demolished the old lounge, built new exits, and moved the Firehouse Pub into the area that had formerly been the old D’Jon’s coffee-shop, only now the seating and the bar were extended much further toward the back of the building. The D’Jon’s lounge has been converted into a “pool room” with an exit that leads to a very attractive, outdoor patio (beer garden) that will be, I’m sure, quite lovely this summer.

The opposite side of the building — D’Jon’s former dining room — is still a dining room, but it’s smaller now. It’s called the “Lumberjack Café” and it’s open for children, creating a family atmosphere. The place is decorated with Buckley history; i.e., old photographs, antique logging saws and equipment, and furniture and booths from Wilkeson’s original Pick and Shovel restaurant. Some of the windows were lifted from the old Wilkeson school.

Some people have suggested the Pub was better “back in the day”, when women’s underwear was hanging from the ceiling. Well, I don’t know about that. In the first place, that whole display was rather juvenile. And second, this summer there won’t be a better watering-hole then the new Pub’s outside patio. See you there.