Maybe I’m being presumptuous, calling the Roanoke (The “Roey” to its friends or long-time Island residents) your favorite bar. But you’ve got to love it. Its best features include:
- Just off the bike trail and I-90
- A welcoming pub room and lawn seating
- Good beer that distracts from the passable pub food
- Formerly a brothel right off the ferry landing
I think I’m close to getting my Wed morning bike friends to stop there for a drink after our ride, and I don’t even know if it’s open that early.
Convince your East Side and Seattle friends to meet there, it’s more convenient for you. Or just turn up on a summer afternoon because that’s what summer afternoons are for.
I was at the Roanoke at happy hour a few weeks ago. While I’m here, I thought, let me satisfy my curiosity about what really goes on at the Roanoke. The plaque outside told me the place was built in 1914:
But I wanted to know more. I asked three of the staff about the place, all of whom referred me to Maggie. After a bit of loitering I was finally able to find Maggie herself.
- Who comes here? I asked. “It’s a really local crowd. 70% are people we see 3, 4 times a week. Lots of bikers: both motorcycles and cyclists.”
- I asked if there were any bar fights. She laughed and said no. I pushed a little, hoping for great story, but she stuck to her answer- I guess Mercer Island isn’t a big bar fight town.
- Thursdays and Fridays, from about happy hour through dinner, are the busiest times. It seemed so to me- happy hour was busier than I’d ever seen it in the evening or weekend.
That’s it- the back story of the Roanoke Inn, straight from Maggie, who’s worked there for seven years. If you have special memories of the place, feel free to contribute them. And now you know: If you want to make Mercer Island history, you can start a fight at the Roanoke. But I suggest you just have a beer.