Here's something you don't see much anymore, outside of reservation smoke shops: display cases of cigars. Cohibas, Coronas, Partagas. Romeo y Julietas, Macanudos, Rocky Patels. Sure didn't expect to come upon this lineup at the Spar, a traditional lunch counter & pool room much loved in Olympia.
The Spar's been around for three score years and twelve, a citadel of rugged male drinking and a bastion of union strength back in the days of Olympia's prominence as a seaport. Over time, as the local industry turned from shipping to politics, lobbyists replaced longshoremen at the bar.
Longtime owner Alan McWain sold the Spar to McMenamin's a year ago, and there were concerns it would lose its soul. Fears proved unfounded. The McMenamin brothers have saved countless treasures in and around Portland, and haven't done the Spar any harm. (In fact, they're about to launch a micro-brewery in the back room, using the Spar's own artesian well.) The food hasn't changed; it's standard diner fare, burgers, Reubens, crab cakes.
As for the cigars, says one Olympia lobbyist, "You buy one or two after you've had lunch at the Spar, but they're cheaper to order online."