Tag Archives: The Roanoke Inn

We Won’t Be at the Roanoke (But You Should Go)

Thanks to intrepid Mercer Island¬†historian Phil Flash, there’s a new sign commemorating Roanoke Landing:

Photo courtesy The Reporter.

You can get a beer at The Roanoke Inn afterwards. But my husband and I won’t be there: since the arrival of baby blogger, we can’t go. This is a product of Washington State Liquor Control policy, which says minors can’t be in bar areas.

Turns out the whole Roanoke is defined as a bar area, which we discovered after walking in Luther Burbank park last fall and stopping by for a beer, where the waitress regretfully told us that they could lose their license if we sat at a booth. This also applies to every happy hour in the city, where we used to go occasionally for great deals on food.

To me it’s a parental responsibility issue. We’re not talking about serving alcohol to minors, just allowing them to be in some very normal places with their parents. We need to teach our kids about responsible alcohol use. If they state wants to do it for us they should tell us we can’t have wine with dinner now and then at home. Anyway, we still love the Roanoke, and we’ll resume stopping by once in a while– in about 21 years.

We Need an Independent Coffee Shop on Mercer Island

We’ve got an independent bookstore, why not an independent coffee shop? There’s two Starbucks’ and a Tully’s on the Island– both local companies. But not independent.

Here’s some commentary on buying local from Island Books:


From the bookstore you can go to Cellar 46, but apparently you can’t go back.

It should be in North Island, maybe in Mercerdale. It should be cozy, with a fireplace. It should have much better food than either Tully’s or the Buck.

How about a bakery/ coffee shop with quiches, ham and cheese croissants and homemade soups?


Delicious croissant, please come to Mercer Island. Credit: junstine.foong, flickr.

For any entrepreneur thinking of starting one, here’s the case for doing it in a recession: people spend more time in coffee shops when work hours are reduced. My friend, a tech contractor, works several days a week in a coffee shop and has for years. Now he has trouble getting a table anyplace.

Imagine, during our latest snowstorm: walking up to North Island, into a cozy coffee shop with a fireplace and some newspapers (I know Starbucks on N. Island has a fireplace). A local gathering place with its own character, in the great Seattle tradition of great coffee shops.

we need a fireplace like this in mercer island

An Americano some local chatter, please. Photo credit: Henry Bonell on Flickr.

Snowstorm ’08- Wait it Out at the Roanoke

Snowstorm ’08 continues unabated and Mercer Island gets whiter and whiter. By our scientific measurement we’ve got 8.5 inches now.

Snow level on Mercer Island

Express buses were running today,

Sount Transit Express bus braves snow on Mercer Island

And the snow gave the holiday decorations a little something extra.

holiday decorations mercer island

I-90 was closed most of the day, or we would have been skiing. But the Roanaoke Inn was open and full of people stir-crazy from the weather and/ or watching the Seahawks game.

Roanoke Inn in snow, Mercer Island

The Roanoke Inn: Your Favorite Local Bar

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.