There Once Was A Spokane Pub...

Field Report No. 20170518RC

Topic: International Diplomacy
Conditions: Cheerful


There once was a Spokane pub
Iconic for smiles, beer, and grub
From Riverfront Park
Jog in on a lark
Like the Flying Irish running club

Tonight is a night for toasts and speechmaking and beer swilling… and of course: limericks. In fact, in attendance is the visiting Lord Mayor of Limerick, Ireland—Spokane’s Sister City, known for the lighthearted poetry structure of the same name. Capping off a gorgeous spring day, an evening of revelry at O’Doherty’s Irish Pub is a natural part of the proceedings. Even with Riverfront Park torn up in its revitalization project, tonight the pub (which just celebrated its 25th Anniversary) is full of Irish Americans (or those who are Irish at heart), city leaders, and beer brewers from No-Li—who of course present the Lord Mayor with a fancy wax-sealed limited edition bottle to stow home to Ireland.

You can tell when you walk through the doors: O’Doherty’s is one of those places that is more than a bar & grill. It’s a Spokane institution that functions, for regulars, like an extended family. For newbies like me, it’s obvious there is a sense of established community—but it still feels inclusive. A woman named Katie strikes up a conversation with me out of nowhere, immediately telling her story about what the pub means to her.

“This is truly a place where everybody knows your name,” she says. She goes on to explain the impact that the place and its owners have had for both her and her husband Bob. It’s an extended family. From the Flying Irish running club to special events like tonight ,to that quick after-work pint or a Zags game, O’Doherty’s has been a place of friendship, community, and the enjoyment of beer, from the best local breweries or from the Emerald Isle itself.

Proving her point, as if on cue, Tim O’Doherty walks by on his way back to the Lord Mayor’s table and, barely breaking stride, greets Katie with a peck on the lips—in the most jovial, mother/son sort of way. Nobody bats an eyelash. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t pull that off. I’m only a quarter-or-so Irish.

The more I hang out, the more obvious it is that Tim and Sandra have created something of a real-life Cheers environment: that elusive mixture of regulars and guests who love to play their roles and seem to be carrying on a life-long conversation with one another, with the city they call home, and even their sister city across the pond.

RECOMMENDATIONS: On Spokane Falls Blvd, right next to the city’s most iconic sights, this is a no-frills spot that some Spokanites take for granted. Come on down for a pint and some friendly conversation. And if this spirits lead you, jump up on the bar to sing a song, tell an off-color joke, or speak your own Limerick to earn your right to tack a dollar bill on the wall. In short, join the family.