Kuhnle’s Tavern rings in 90 years

MARYSVILLE — For 90 years, it’s been family owned and operated and for many Marysville residents it’s become a part of their extended family.

Kuhnle’s Tavern celebrated its 90-year anniversary Dec. 6. It was started by Ed and Clair Kuhnle in 1918, before they sold it to they son Kay in 1955. Kay’s wife, JoAnn, didn’t start working there until 1959, but ever since he passed away in 2006, she’s been the boss.

It’s not a theme bar, and it’s not a fancy bar. Kuhnle’s Tavern doesn’t rely on novelties to sell itself, because for its owner and its patrons, its appeal is simple — like “Cheers,” it’s the bar where everyone knows your name.

“I don’t know what the secret to our success is, but I hope we don’t quit doing it.” JoAnn Kuhnle laughed, as the Snohomish Sauerkraut Band played its way through a series of familiar, rousing favorites. “We’ve got the finest customers in the world.”

“It’s fantastic.” said Lee Stewart, after singing a few rounds with Kuhnle. “I started coming here four or five years ago, when my son asked to shoot some pool with me here, and I was hooked. Everybody knows everybody else and they’re all happy to see you. The atmosphere is one of family and friends. It’s like coming home. That’s what I come back for. Well, that and JoAnn.”

Kuhnle’s Tavern has retained so much appeal throughout the years that it’s retained a few employees for decades — Tanya Buttke has worked there for nearly 20 years, while Gloria Phillips has worked there for more than 30 years — and it’s kept two local families coming back for at least two generations each. Denny and Joanie Barclay showed up to Kuhnle’s Dec. 6 to toast its 90 years. Denny’s mother used to work at Kuhnle’s and now his son and daughter are regular customers, as well.

“When I got out of the military, I came here, even though it was the only place in town I couldn’t drink, because they knew I wasn’t 21,” said Denny, who’s been coming back for more than 49 years. “It’s just a great, friendly bar.”

Bert Robbinson has been coming to Kuhnle’s for the past 50 years, and he and his son Bob joined in the anniversary celebration Dec. 6.

“I celebrated my 21st and my 42nd birthdays in that seat right there,” Bob said as he pointed to one end of a central table. “We always laugh and have a good time here.”

“Plus, it’s the only place that’s got Rainier on tap,” Bert said.

“I love everybody here,” Kuhnle said. “They’re the reason I’m still going.”

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