Throngs of revelers attend McMenamins Elks Temple grand opening


By Matt Nagle –


It won’t be long before the Spanish Ballroom becomes known throughout Tacoma as a premiere venue for live music and more.
Credit: Matt Nagle

After years of anticipation, the McMenamins Elks Temple held its grand opening on April 24 – and what an event it was. Starting at the 7:30 a.m. opening time, the place was packed on every floor with happy people enjoying breakfast, lunch, dinner, exploration and discovery – and free live music in the Spanish Ballroom that evening with Champagne Sunday and Young Fresh Fellows. Entertainment at every turn – that’s what McMenamins Elks Temple is all about and that’s exactly what it delivers.

So much has been said about how fabulous the $34 million project would to be, and the McMenamin brothers and crew certainly did not disappoint. The interior décor is truly something to behold in its artistry – opulent, lush and with a big dash of bohemia perfectly fitting the culture of Tacoma. Much of the Elks original interior artwork was preserved as well, keeping history alive as a new chapter begins for the century old building. There is even a new set of antlers as large as tree branches on the elk’s head above the entrance – a very nice finishing touch just in time for opening day.

Starting on the first floor and all the way up to the seventh, there is something around every corner: the Old Hangout bar; the Bottle Shop and Brewery Tasting Room; the Spanish Bar with its outdoor café (the largest in Tacoma); the Spanish Ballroom with two-story murals inspired by Wagner’s “Ring” cycle; Doc’s, a games bar overlooking the Spanish Ballroom, and the mezzanine with its own charms and vantage point to enjoy live music in the ballroom; McMenamins Pub; plenty of restaurants and areas to grab a quick bite; the top floor hotel with rooms named after local luminaries like historian Bill Baarsma (room #617); and views galore of Commencement Bay and Foss Waterway.

Tacoma City Council member Robert Thoms has worked closely with the McMenamin brothers to establish the sidewalk café at the Spanish Steps, something that all Tacoma restaurant and bar owners will benefit from as Thoms works to craft a city ordinance that makes it easier for them to create their own outdoor areas.

“I’m honored that they chose to invest in Tacoma,” he said of the McMenamins. “I’m looking forward to working with them on their marvelous sidewalk café to create an exciting outdoor venue downtown.”

There for the grand opening, Seattleite Cathy DeLaVergne heard about it and had to come down to visit friends and see what all the talk was about. Having visited McMenamins in Portland, she kind of knew what to expect but was in awe as everyone else at what Tacoma received.

“The different areas are really cool,” she said. “Each one of them has their own character and personality.”

Tacoma native Cherie Burke has been following McMenamins for a long time. “Like 25 years,” she said, naming a few she has visited. “I’ve always loved their concept and the how eclectic they all are. It’s exciting to see that they’ve done one right here in our own backyard. This whole place reminds me of Vegas. Each room transports you to a different time and space.”

McMenamins Elks Temple is located at 565 Broadway. Learn more at


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