Pin It
Favorite

From the Bottom Up 

The Checkerboard Tavern changes owners and its reputation.

click to enlarge JEFF FERGUSON
  • Jeff Ferguson

East Sprague is a study in contrasts. The street is spotted with bakeries, Vietnamese restaurants and home décor boutiques. But along the same stretch of this run-down industrial corridor are dilapidated warehouses and topless bars in an area that’s well-known for prostitution.

But Chris Wilde and Ian Maye want to change the district’s reputation one drink at a time.

“I think this neighborhood is on the up,” Maye says. “We’ve still got a lot of ways to go, but we want to be part of that positive change.”

Maye and Wilde recently purchased the Checkerboard Tavern, a 79-year-old bar on East Sprague. The duo began managing the tavern in January and decided to purchase the space in February when the state approved an updated liquor license.

In one corner of the bar is a Terminator pinball machine. In the other, a pool table, dartboard and a cardboard cutout of John Wayne.

The bar itself is painted cherry-red. The worn wooden plank is lined with swivel barstools and a cluster of red vinyl diner-style chairs and tables, where patrons can eat a selection of sandwiches like the Horsy roast beef ($6) or a pizza sub ($6).

Bartenders serve 40-ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon beers or pour from a box of Badger Mountain Wine. The four beers on tap include Budge Brothers stout ($3.50) and Bud Light ($3).

With the recently adjusted liquor license, they now serve a simple list of spirits, like Fireball, Captain Morgan, Jack Daniels and Grey Goose Vodka.

The neighborhood bar, built in 1933, has the longest-running liquor license in Washington state, says Maye.

“This place has been here so many years we’ve got generations that drink in here: fathers, sons and grandchildren,” Maye says.

But the Checkerboard Tavern also developed a 79-year reputation as a man’s bar and a seedy dive. To shake that stigma, Maye says, they are planning to schedule live bands (they built a stage last week), install a state-of-the-art karaoke machine (you can sing six nights a week), purchase a pizza oven, landscape the tavern’s back patio and modernize the appliances.

“When people say, ‘Oh cool, this place is old,’ they forget that means old appliances, equipment and a lot of junk,” Maye says. “There’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Checkerboard Tavern • 1716 E. Sprague Ave. • Open Mon-Sat, noon-close • checkerboardbar.com • (535-4007)

  • Pin It

Speaking of East Sprague, booze

Latest in Food & Drink

  • Bigger Beer
  • Bigger Beer

    The Inland Northwest Craft Beer Festival is a sign of how far we've come
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • By the Numbers
  • By the Numbers

    North Idaho Cider changes ownership focus, adds to cider line
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • Power Play
  • Power Play

    Crafted Taphouse + Kitchen scores big with adjacent Victory Sports Hall
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Disney's Beauty and the Beast

Disney's Beauty and the Beast @ Spokane Civic Theatre

Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. and Sundays, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 9

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Jordy Byrd

  • Halloween City
  • Halloween City

    Marijuana-inspired costumes for stoners
    • Oct 22, 2015
  • Farm to Pipe
  • Farm to Pipe

    Locals Canna House opens in Spokane Valley
    • Oct 1, 2015
  • Social High
  • Social High

    A Spokane company launches a new cannabis-focused social media platform
    • Sep 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

Readers also liked…

  • The Next Gen
  • The Next Gen

    Local favorite Gordy's Sichuan Cafe has new owners, but the beloved menu remains
    • Jan 7, 2016
  • Pushing Tin
  • Pushing Tin

    Tinbender Craft Distillery is focused on a modern approach to classic spirits
    • Feb 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation