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It was sometime in the year of 1936 when L.C. Streeter and Joe Reidt applied to the Kirkland City Council for a permit to sell beer. The location for this new beer hall was to be the old Gateway Theatre, which is now the Bio Azure, a trendy spa and health salon at 114 Central Way. This license was rejected by the City Council for unknown reasons but the two entrepreneurs tried again. This time the location of choice was a space in the building directly across the street that was known at the time as the National Supply Building. Today, this building is better known as the Kirkland Roaster and Ale House. The City's fathers gave their approval for this license and so in 1936, a new tavern was born on Central Way. Kirkland's first beer pub was appropriately named the Central Tavern.
Some three or four years later, the business was moved to the current location at 124 Kirkland Avenue. This single story building of brick construction was built in 1924 and served as the first Safeway Grocery in Kirkland. Sometime in the early 1940's, Safeway moved to a larger building up the street and the Central Tavern has been here ever since.
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Attesting to the fact that the business enjoyed a good location and a good reputation, the list of owners is relatively short. Marge Obenza bought the Central from Lyle and Dolly Muir, then eventually sold out to Ken Van Bebber. He operated it until 1980 when he sold to Val and Fred Mund who stayed in business for only a couple of years. Marilyn Bolles took over the ownership from the Munds and ran a successful operation for the next 18 years while developing other interests in Eastern Washington, so the ownership was ultimately sold to her long time employee and now current owner, Diane Krushelnisky.
Keeping an established business in operation for this lenth of time means one has to change with the times. During the days of the Muir's, the Central Tavern enjoyed that "neighborhood" feeling. It was in the neighborhood place where you felt comfortable bringing your friends from out of town. It was the friendly tavern where one would bring their children for their first beer on their 21st birthday.
Probably one of the biggest claims to fame the Muir family started was the full-length shuffleboard, one of the very few on the Eastside. Tournaments were held regularly between 5 other local taverns. Unfortunately the shuffleboard lost it's public appeal and was upgraded to a set of pool tables.
The Actual bar and stools used today are the original fixtures that date back to the early beginning. You will notice that not much has changed at this quaint little bar as displayed in the picture collages that adorn the walls within the Central, ranging from the 40's and 50's to today's crowd regulars. Next time you're there, you may want to take a look, especially If you grew up in the Kirkland area giving you a chance in possibly recognize a familiar face.
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Sometime in 1992, the Kirkland Downtown Association decieded it would be a good idea to introduce live music in to the community. Clubs in the town were to host a live jazz show on the first Wednesday night of every month. Most of them did just that although the Central decieded to march to the tune of a different drummer, literally. The Cat Morrison Band was brought in for the first Wednesday Night Jazz Session, but to refer to their style of music as jazz is quite a stretch. However what they did bring to the Central was and still is a high cross of every combinging blues and rock, two times a week. Ten years later, we are still packing the house every Sunday and Wednesday evening, even though all of the other clubs stopped their own Jazz night back in 1998.
It's a small space for a band to set up, but they always find a way to sqeeze in. This makes for an extremely intimate showcase which most performers seem to prefer with so many current stages being "out of touch" with the actual crowd. The different acts offer an infusion of rock, jazz, blues and country, even with an occasional bluegrass band. There is something for everyone, regardless of musical preference.
Probibly the most recent noticeable change came with the introduction of hard spirits in the year 2000 when the liquor board changed the rules about such things and many smaller taverns made the change. They were no longer allowed to call themselves a Tavern so the Central was forced to take the name, Central Club which it is known as today. Since then, the clientel evolved into a younger crowd who enjoys the upscale drinks the club now has to offer. The Central Club now presents some of the finest beverages and bartenders you will find anywhere in town.
The Central has come a long way since the days of it's early owners. From the shuffleboards to the high-energy music, the one thing you can always count on, the Central hasn't changed and everyone is always guarenteed to have a good time.
Cheers to ya!