The Lower Tavern has been a beloved gathering place on Orcas Island for decades. From karaoke nights to Seahawk Sundays, and everything in between, it is a long-standing favorite for islanders and tourists alike. It has been in its current location for the past 30+ years, however, that is not where it all began.
Originally opened in 1951, The Tavern as it was known, was inside the grocery store, where Ray’s Pharmacy is located. The Linnes family bought the grocery store ( who are still running it today as Island Market) and took over The Tavern. After a year of running The Tavern, it was leased to Cary and Karen Linnes and the following year Norm and MaryAnn Carpenter took it over. A few years later, they sold the business to Ron and Rita Sailling. The Sailings renamed it Old Gaffers Pub and moved it across the street, where the Madrona Bar and Grill is today.
Once again, it was sold, and the original name returned with a slight change. At the time, there was a new tavern on the hillside outside of town, that was known as The Upper Tavern. To keep the two taverns from being confused, the new owner added ‘Lower’, which is how The Lower Tavern came to be named.
In 1992 The Lower Tavern was moved to 46 Prune Alley. One wouldn’t be able to tell looking at it now, but this building was formally the medical center. The building is still serving community needs, but in a much different capacity. In 2007, ownership once again changed hands, and to this day is still owned and run by Jim Passer and Teri Nigretto.
Although the location has changed over the years, as well as owners, The Lower Tavern’s commitment to serving the community has remained.