In 2006, I wrote a Sunday column for The News Tribune that advocated for the new buyers of the dilapidated, vacant 1916 Elks Temple to partner with the McMenamin brothers on a restoration of the Tacoma landmark.
Back then, the McMenamins’ empire of 54 brewpubs, inns, theaters, and restaurants — many in historic, renovated locations — seemed a perfect match for Tacoma, generally, and the Elks Temple, specifically.
Then I asked readers, if they agreed with me, to email support to the building’s buyers, Williams & Dame of Portland, and to the McMenamin brothers.
And, boy, oh boy, did they write.
Within 24 hours, the Williams & Dame project manager told me his email inbox was overwhelmed with positive responses. Within 48 hours, Brian McMenamin emailed and called about “a sea of emails, and it’s overwhelmingly positive. You should thank your readers.”
Now, more than 12 years later, I have a thank-you promise to keep.
I promised in print to those who wrote and cc’d me that when the McMenamins’ Elks Temple opens, I would invite them to a celebration, so we could toast and celebrate.
“The Black Rabbit Red is on me,” I promised.
With help from the brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin; Mike’s daughter, Shannon; McMenamins Chief Operating Officer DJ Simcoe; and Josh Dunn, publisher of this magazine, all 180 of you are invited to an April 22 pre-opening party at the new McMenamins Elks Temple.
You know who you are:
- Rockne Eli of Puyallup wrote that he wanted this project to quench his thirst for McMenamins’ Hammerhead copper-colored ale.
- Former Oregonians begged the brothers to bring their magic touch to Tacoma: Nancy Mellor, Clem Hong, Greg Downing, John Rodenberg, Lynn Hickman, Christy Marthaller-Lineweaver and Jim Lineweaver, Tanya and Jim Hammer, Carolyn Johnson, Nelson Rascon, Dana and Jim D’Eagle.
- David and Caroline Phill evangelized the writing campaign to their friends.
- Former Elks Temple patrons wrote: Jane Dudley, who had two sons start their chef’s careers there; Frank Hickey; Steve and Cindy Bates; Nancy McFarland; Margaret Fiorino; Dave Hill; Jane Dow.
- Non-Tacomans who saw the value chipped in: Jeff and Steph Brown, Mark and Susie Galligan, Jackie Cooper-Clement, Grace McNellis of Gig Harbor, Donn and Mary Lewis of Bonney Lake, Sallee and John Ludiker, Lindsey and Sean Draper, Liberty Pierce, Nancy Haughee, Teri Tomatich of Puyallup, Shannon McMullen of Lacey, Kathi Joy of Federal Way, Craig Keizur of Edgewood, Steve Shaw of Olympia, Jim and Carolyn Castino of Fox Island, David and Janis Foley of Enumclaw, Margretchen Fuesler of Lakewood.
- Those with specific thirsts wrote: Steve Hale, Andrew Austin, Chris Vike, John English, Kyle Price (Terminator Stout); Doug Stuart, Paul Akiyama (Black Rabbit Red); Kim and Tom Fergin (Bagdad Ale); Jane Murray, Jen Killion (Hammerhead).
- Some described themselves as McMenamins groupies: Dell Plagens, Valerie Simmons, Kellie Fremont, Diane Katz, Kurt Morrison, Dawn Nanfito, Sydney and Shawn Hennessy, Charles Jackel, Jayne Ashby, Laurie Brown, Kurt Giessel.
- Nola Tresslar and Greg Eisnaugle shared similar dreams of winning the lottery and restoring the Elks building.
- Some recounted visits to other McMenamins destinations: Phyllis Bales; Steve Garrett; Jessie L. Wetzbarger; Ken and Kathy Brown; Kathryn, Andrew and Noah Pettibon; Randy Durham; John Simpkins; Julie and David Veeck; Paul Banken; Tess Colby and Johnna Belter; Marty Olson; Rick Nordi; Judy Grover; Jill Dykeman; Ken and Dianne Hall; Wally Croshaw; Melanie Reed; Katherine Campbell; Francie Jordan; Tim Helling; Greg Amann; Terry Reid; David Rosen; John Goebel; Bonnie Collmer; Clint Crumley; Christine George; Ali Toomoth; Bill McMurchie.
- Hey, Lorelei Sheen: You can finally make your hotel reservations.
- A few committed to keeping their fingers crossed: Elli and Al Falk, Erika and Pat Tucci, Donna Schultz.
- Many loaded their names and encouragement: Heather Maher, Tim Quigg, Mike Robinson, Pete Weikel, Cathryn Heisler-Weikel, Joan Davies Rapp, Ann Johnson, Victoria Stebor, Jim and Melissa Rose, Diana Kiesel, Amy Bettesworth, Jerry Merriman, Kristin Hemmelgarn, Stan Lee, Dick McEntee, Bill Kaufmann, Jamie Siegel, Bill Evans, Kris Blondin Lynn Riegel, Natalie McNair-Huff, Jack Sutton, Elliot Stockstad, Chris Thompson, Cindy Anderson, Ryan Petty, Jeff Hartle, Rod Greenshields, Tom Llewellyn, Becky Eisnaugle, Mark Flynn, C.J. Schoonhoven, Len Ganduglia, Jim D’Aboy, Jay Hember, Sylvia Thomas, Lindsay Fowler, Lindsey Sehmel, Andrew Becherer, Christine Hickey, Daniel Follmer, Carolyn A. Boling, Bob Farrell, Maggie Howse, Scott Schoeggl, Pat Flynn, Kela Crisp, Barbara Smith, Bryan Johnson, Steve Williams, Leanne Foster, Wendy Carbone, Kathryn Schwarz, Mike Dinon, Dave and Barbara Stalheim, Betsy Johnson, Eileen and Paul Borne, Erik Haynes, Dana Myers.
- Christine Matter-Rinehart and Geoff Rinehart invited the McMenamins so politely: “Pretty, pretty please with a scoop of your awesome pasta with spinach and hazelnuts on top?”
- Carolyn Jowett offered her prayers.
- A distant family relative even chimed in: Anne McMenamin Ransom, whose grandfather, Michael McMenamin, counted himself among the earlier Elks members.
Now I need only those of you mentioned above to write to me again, so I can get you an official invitation to the party. Send me an email at: email@example.com.