Reservations for McMenamins debut fill up


The day Tacoma will no longer be a McMenamins-free city is finally at hand. Well, at least announced. The Elks Temple will open April 24, with a slate of live acts that is in the works.

“There isn’t a show on the roster yet, but they are looking for national and local acts,” McMenamins spokeswoman Carly Smith said. “They are still kind of working on that.”

The general plan is to hold investor-only tours prior to the grand opening, which will be open to the public and offer live acts to showcase the different bars and unveil the 700-person ballroom at the historic facility.

The McMenamins Elks Temple will ultimately offer 45 hotel rooms, and started taking reservations on Dec. 5. Opening week is largely booked already, however. Alongside those rooms, the fully renovated, 102-year-old structure will have three boutique restaurants either in the former pool, lining the ballroom or dotted around the former fraternal order’s seven stories. Niche bars (some would say even secret ones) can be discovered under the sidewalk and up hidden stairwells, or people can stay with the herd by heading to the game room or enjoy a craft drink over a game of shuffleboard. The venue will also have a microbrewery, of course.

Crews are still working on the custom artwork and the historical restoration of the building’s iconic features to marry the city’s new vibe as an entertainment hub and the building’s fraternal past at a cost of $34 million. The building had sat vacant for decades, after all, so it needed more than its fair share of renovations and repairs to bring it up to current building codes. Renovations have been underway for more than a year.

The next big step toward opening comes after the holidays, when McMenamins will hold interviews for management and non-management positions to fill out its staff of some 200 non-unionized workers at two hiring events at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center.

Mike and Brian McMenamin operate a collection of 55 pubs, restaurants and historic hotels across Washington and Oregon, most notably the Crystal Ballroom in Portland and the former Anderson School in Bothell as well as the Spar in downtown Olympia.

The brothers had first thought the restoration of the Elks Temple would cost around $18 million, but the doubling of the final price tag prompted delays as investor calls raised the added capital. That shift also led the Portland-based company to drop talks with city officials about taking over the nearby Old City Hall building. Surge Tacoma has since stepped in to turn that facility into a retail and restaurant hub with apartments and offices on the upper floors.

McMenamins Elks Temple will employ approximately 150-200 staff. Hiring calls will be hosted at the Tacoma Convention Center on the following dates:
• Management positions interviews will be held 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan 17.
• Non-management positions interviews will be held 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 11.
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