Best Place to Drink Beer - The Elk - Running a pub in an old pharmacy creates some weird moments. Co-owner Brad Fosseen says they get people who say they used to come in with their grandma to get her prescription filled. "They're always saying, 'Where's the old soda fountain?' I don't know, that was gone, like, two restaurants ago. Now we have a beer fountain."
And the Inland Northwest is glad they do, as it has been voted Best Place to Drink Beer (following wins in Best Pub and Best Neighborhood Hangout in recent years). In fact, the three partners -- Fosseen, John Grollmus and Jeff Meagher -- are also bringing their brand of high-quality quaffing to North Idaho, too, as they also own Coeur d'Alene's Moon Time, which was the highest North Idaho vote-getter in this category.
Their story is by now familiar, but it could use replicating to continue Spokane's quest for Seattle style (without Seattle's traffic and high prices, thank you very much).
"Not everybody is like, 'Oh, Seattle's the best,' " says Fosseen, who lived in the Emerald City for eight years before migrating back home. In fact, Fosseen's local roots run deep -- his grandfather Neal Fosseen was the mayor of Spokane back in the 1960s. (As an aside, Brad reports that his grandpa is recovering well from a stroke he had last year -- "He's nicer than he was before," he quips.)
"Yeah, my family's been around here a long time -- we're all L.C. people," says Fosseen. "When you come back to Spokane, you know, you want to make it cool. If you look around, there are a lot of people doing the same thing -- there are just a lot of cool people trying to do stuff." How's that for an economic development catchphrase?
Fosseen adds that it's gratifying when he sees old friends come in to have a pint -- and building a business around something that is just plain fun has been rewarding as well. "It's a great time," he says. "We have such cool employees; everybody who comes in here, it's really just a bunch of nice people. They're all like friends." (I know, you're cueing that theme song from Cheers in your head right now.)
Just like old granddad, Fosseen and company are trying to make Spokane a better place -- but in their world, progress comes one keg at a time. "Hey," he jokes, "it beats being voted best place to hold a PTA meeting."
2nd: The Ram
3rd: The Viking