My friend Sonya is visiting this week and my friend Becky called up one day and said, “Let’s go have lunch at the Bethel Saloon!”
The Bethel Saloon is a biker bar on Bethel Road in Port Orchard. It’s a funky old building, almost like something out of an Old West movie. It’s an interesting leftover from a time before Walmarts and other manifestations of suburban blight. My friends and I have been driving by this place for years and saying, “Cool building.” It has a skeleton riding a motorcycle on the roof over the entrance.
First thing you notice as you walk in is that the parking places in front are all for motorcycles. It was Wednesday and there was a sign saying, “Taco Wednesday! Two for $3.00! Come in on a Harley or a rod and get two free!”
We went in and found ourselves in a classic old school American bar. The bar itself was on the left, and to the right were two rooms with one pool table each. We went to the bar and ordered lunch from the nice lady who worked there. Sonya and I had the two tacos, and Becky had the pulled pork sandwich. The food was good, and sitting on the tall stools at the bar we looked around at the décor and watched the people playing pool.
The place reminded me of bars from the fifties and sixties with the dark wood interior, the neon beer signs, and the old school (i.e., politically incorrect) male humor. There were pictures featuring underdressed women and customized motorcycles, Seahawks memorabilia, and a few bumper stickers. My favorite bumper sticker was, “I swear to drunk I am not God.” I liked it for the humor as well as the theology.
We got to talking with the lady barkeep after she made our lunches. When she found out we were from Vashon she asked if the story about the bicycle in the tree – that some World War I soldier had stuck it there before he went off to war – was true. I was pleased to be able to tell her, no, it most certainly is not true, and then told her the story of the Puz family’s misfortune and how it led to Don Puz’s bicycle being stuck in the tree, only to be discovered years later.
We had a pleasant time and finished our lunch, and Sonya went off to use the restroom. When she came back I said I’d like to do that, too, and she pointed across the room and said, “Straight across that way. It’s the door on the left, if you have any trouble figuring it out.”
I started to walk across the room and saw the two rest room doors. Over the door on the right, in black letters eight to ten inches tall on a white background, was a sign that said, “Dicks.” Over the door on the left was a similar sign that said, “No dicks.” So I didn’t have any trouble figuring it out.
All you young’ns don’t realize that this sort of humor was once commonplace in America. You don’t see it so much anymore. Some people would be offended. If you are one of those people, I recommend you not go to the Bethel Saloon.
But if you’re not one of those people, the Bethel Saloon is a great place to have lunch and a beer. The place has soul, a sense of humor, and pretty good food.
We settled our tab and went outside, stopping an arriving biker named Pete and asking him to take our picture with my phone, which he did. Thanks, Pete.
As we waited at Southworth to catch the 5:05 ferry, we saw many motorcyclists coming off the ferry and figured some of them were heading for the Bethel Saloon, maybe to get their two free tacos.
Now I have written a favorable review of a bar in Port Orchard. Any of you restaurants on Vashon who want a review, put up a sign saying, “Free lunch if you arrive in a Honda Civic.” I’ll be right over.