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Landmark watering hole crosses street

The J&R Tavern is dead. Long live the J&R!

For 62 years the J&R Tavern has watched Silverdale progress from a sleepy farming town to bustling commercial hub from its location on the west side of Silverdale Way. It has been a home-away-from-home since 1943 for countless patrons who have come together in good times and bad to commiserate over a cold beer or a game of pool.

“This is a great bar,” bartender Tami Tromley said. “Everyone knows everyone. We’ve got the sons and daughters of the old-timers that come in here. They like the 25-cent pool table and the 25-cent jukebox.”

That was the atmosphere that attracted customer Robert Myers when he moved to Silverdale from eastern Washington 18 months ago.

“This was the first place I jumped into because I like these mom and pop places,” Myers said. “It felt so comfortable for me to come here.”

Those days are over as now the concrete block structure sits empty. Its bar is gone, so are the stools, submarine memorabilia, jukebox, bingo cards and the pool table. The last beer was poured Monday night and the flags were brought down for the final time.

“It was sad Monday night,” said current J&R owner Yeoland “Toad” Henrikson, “but it’s going to be sadder to turn the keys in.”

Henrikson bought the bar in October 2001 knowing that the lease on the building could be up at any time. “It was offered to me at a brass-ring price,” she said Wednesday afternoon as she and several long-time customers cleaned up the old joint. Her personal history in the J&R goes back to 1966 when the original owner Jimmy Domstead (the “J” in J&R) gave her a bartender job. She ended up working there for 14 years. She got out of the bar business for awhile before she bought the venerable Maple Leaf Tavern in Manette.

She said her best memories are from the Domstead days when he had memorabilia from Silverdale’s past dating back to the 1890s on the bar’s walls.

“He had all these farm implements, bells, whistles and things he’d bang on,” Henrikson recalled. “Then he’d go over to the 10-cent jukebox and play the ‘William Tell Overture’ five times.”

She’ll have plenty of new memories to look forward to as everything in the old J&R was moved to the new J&R’s location only a few hundred yards away and across Silverdale Way in the old Post Office building behind Key Bank.

“I had two things I was looking for in a new location,” Henrikson said, noting she didn’t want to close the doors and walk away like so many other Silverdale businesses have. “One, it had to be a concrete building. Two, I had to keep it near the original location.”

She had her eye on the building for months and kept calling the owner to see if it was available. When it finally was, she decided to move the J&R in. But first the old one had to close.

“We had a tremendous turnout all day Monday,” Henrikson said. “We had let everyone know so we were busy with all the people coming and going.”

It took five people to move the bar out to a trailer in three pieces and unload it into its new place. Henrikson said she found two 1957 pennies underneath the bar, the same year it was originally built. The walk-in cooler door, a relic from what is now the Silverdale Market, is making the trip, as is the tribute to Eternal Patrols (honoring submariners lost at sea) which was removed from the ceiling and will be placed in a frame to hang on the wall.

Henrikson said she even has a new U.S. flag to run up the flagpole once the doors open.

“It’s a beautiful new flag that we’re going to put up for a week to let everyone know we’re here,” she said.

Opening soon, the new spot has about twice the room as the previous one (the prior occupancy rate was 66, now it’s about 120), giving Henrikson the idea of putting in a kitchen so she can bake pies, a favorite treat of her regulars.

Even though it’s in a new home, the J&R is still sticking to its roots with cold beers and kegs to go.

“Everyone will love it because the J&R is still here,” Tromley said as she checked out the new place. “We’re just getting a new body.”

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