The adage “Forty years of cheers and beers,” at the bottom of local artist Brice Smith’s painting hangs above the bar at the Tides Tavern, perfectly summing up the milestone for the iconic establishment.
The anniversary is being marked with a three day celebration at the Tavern September 13 to 15 that includes live music, food, and drinks.
A raffle with prizes supporting the charity “Race for a Soldier” is on the list but other activities are being kept a surprise for long time owner, Peter Stanley.
“Planning this celebration and recognizing the magnitude of memories that this building has held has been incredibly humbling,” said General Manager Kristin Bergeson.
“We are excited about the 40th celebration and the fun and energy. We’re expecting a full house.”
A band will be performing each night from 7 to 9 p.m.
“I have enjoyed bringing back live music with intent this past year,” said son and CEO Dylan Stanley.
“We haven’t had a big party like this since the 25th anniversary. It will be great to hear people share their stories and memories with us,” said Dylan.
Bergeson refers to the feeling created over the decades as “the magic of the Tides.”
“It is such a blessing to work at an establishment that is cared for by ownership, staff, and community,” Bergeson said.
“That magic has been cultivated by stellar leadership.”
The original leader and owner being Peter Stanley, who started the small town local tavern and created what is now a destination place for people in the region come to eat, drink and socialize.
Keeping The Tides Tavern “the Tides” and what customers love about his iconic restaurant with the energy, atmosphere, and charm has been Peter Stanley’s utmost goal these past 40 years.
He’s also had to find a way to grow and change with a historic property in a technological world.
Forty years ago, on June 2 at the Harbor Holidays, Tides Tavern doors opened. The idea came from college buddies sitting around a tavern in Tacoma thinking it would be great to run their own pizza and beer place.
After searching for property for a year, Stanley found “this fantastic building” at the old ferry dock and he set out to create a place that generations of people could come together to have a great time together and all get along.
Opening on a hot summer day, with flooring barely finished and taps still being tuned. The place went from 0 to 300 customers in less than 10 minutes.
“No one had any idea how to run a business or what was in store. We were all a bit shell-shocked, but the crew jumped into it and never looked back. It was like riding a tiger,” said Stanley. “It was an incredible, crazy and fun place to be.”
The intangible characteristics are part of what keeps customers coming back and always guide Stanley into make any changes.
People are convinced any alterations will “ruin the Tides.”
The first major change was at the 25th anniversary. Stanley felt moving to a full service establishment was necessary.
Customers weren’t the only hindrance.
Taverns are usually limited to 21 and over with no hard alcohol. Stanley petitioned the Liquor Board and won. Tavern remained in the name with hard alcohol, sit down service and no minors. A rare combination in our state.
Going to non-smoking ahead of a state mandate was the other change leaving some customers concerned.
Stanley faced the protest head on.
“I put plastic placards with names of regulars and had packs of cigarettes chained outside on the deck for them to enjoy,” said Stanley.
Smokers were appeased but moreover, it benefited the pregnant staff and customers who had stayed away previously due to the smoke.
“Some things changed, but it’s still the Tides” is all Stanley likes to hear after anything new is implemented.
Over the years, Stanley has remained the big picture person, self titled, “keeper of the Tide flame,” guiding the Tavern but largely relying on a competent team of management and staff for running the day to day activities.
Stanley appreciates how his staff puts their own personality stamp into giving the tavern its energy.
Multiple customers who have been coming to the Tides since its inception, including 40 year Tides customer Chris Reilly,
“Kathy (former GM) and now Kristin hire great people. It’s the exceptional staff that brings me back,” said Reilly.
“I feel fortunate people choose to be here and come spend their time with us,” said Bergeson. They expect it to have the same feel each time. It’s the comfort of home away from home.”
Staff members also stay around for years, something rare in the restaurant business.
“I love the people, the management and other staff. We’re like a family. I walk in the door here and it’s like coming home,” said ten year veteran Tim Jones.
“I take joy from trying to do well for the staff.,” said Dylan. “I feel the pride I take with the employees transfers over the customers.”
The staff chose the fall for the celebration when some of the craziness of the Tides being a summer destination calmed down and local fisherman are back.
“It’s the cozy time when you can soak up the love from the community,” said Bergeson.
The thick maple shuffleboard bar top and cedar front panel has been in place since 1973, but it’s the symbiotic relationship between owner, management, staff and customers that has people coming back to the Tides.
Peter Stanley takes pride that his tavern has matured and grown up with the city and its customers but still remains a cool place to be. “We’re willing to grow and change with the times, yet till be the same and remain the Tides at heart,” said Peter.
The Tide flame will continue on within the Stanley family.
“I am all about keeping the Tides neat and tidy so we will be around for another 40 years,” said Dylan.
For more information on the festivities go to www.tidestavern.com