The eastern flank of Spokane is going through a rebirth, and Hillyard is at its forefront. And though it battles a reputation of poverty and crime, the bars that make up Market Street’s entertainment district are havens for locals and visitors alike.
“I just like coming to this place,” says Joel Barber, a Hillyard native who was drinking at the Barbary Coast (5209 N. Market St.) last Friday night. Featuring a polished wood bar, karaoke, and well drinks starting at $2.75, the Barbary Coast is typical of Hillyard’s bars. It’s cheap and unpretentious.
And like many businesses in Hillyard, the Barbary Coast is a family affair.
“This is my mom’s dream,” says bartender Andrea Breithaupt from behind a gleaming, polished wood bar with a dry-erase board listing prices. “She wanted to open a bar in, of all places, Hillyard.”
Both her mom and brother passed away recently. She says she keeps the bar open in their memory.
Jake Beaver, owner of Usher’s Corner (5028 N. Market St.), says he squirreled money away in banks across the country while working as a carpenter. His dream was to run a bar somewhere near where he grew up in North Idaho. He wagered on Hillyard.
“I’m telling you, Hillyard is going to pop, and the reason it’s going to pop is people are tired of being miserable,” says Beaver of Usher’s, a nondescript hideaway that harbors an expansive bar and dance floor inside.
It was midnight on a Friday, and Usher’s wasn’t packed, but it wasn’t empty, either. The crowd was mostly older people, some in baggy T-shirts, one in jeans and a cowboy hat. Beaver likes it this way and discourages the bar from getting clogged with rowdy youngsters. Less trouble that way.
To drink in Hillyard is to drink among a crowd that can seem more close-knit than the average neighborhood. Breithaupt explains it like this: “It’s like a family here. Even the new people, they walk in and it’s like they’ve always been here.”
... SIP DRINKS IN TEST TUBES
Besides pool tables, dancing and TVs in every booth, Usher’s Corner (5028 N. Market St.) offers drinks served in a variety of unusual containers. There are shooters in test tubes, Jell-O shots in salsa containers, not to mention a menu of mixed drinks.
... FIND CARNIVAL GAMES
Big Sky’s (5510 N. Market St.) even looks like a carnival from outside, with the facades of what look like carnival buildings ringing the parking lot outside. Inside, there are pool tables and dart machines, and free popcorn to go along with it all.
... GET DISCIPLINED
Don’t mess around at the Special K Tavern & Eatery (3817 N. Market St.), a bar with a reputation as a rough-and-tumble place. While there was no rough-and-tumble during a visit by an Inlander reporter to the venue, one man who acted in an uncouth manner was chased out by the bar’s proprietors. Rather than cause trouble, just get a pitcher and buy some pulltabs.