Smokey Joe's has long been a Valley gathering place

— image credit:

Old-timers who frequent the tavern share stories

about Smokey Joe's less-than-modest past when it used to be part

of the Burton Hotel. They claim that the upstairs portion of the

hotel, which was destroyed in a fire on April 2, 1960, was a

brothel where men would go for entertainment after they had a

few beers.

Although some things have changed since then, the

atmosphere of Smokey Joe's has stayed relatively the same.

"It's very casual and laid back," said Pamela Leland,

who owns the tavern with her husband Jim.

"People come here and relax, eat and drink," Jim added.

"We don't have a lot of wild and craziness going on. It's pretty


The Lelands bought the tavern last year and run it with

the help of Robin Robinson, Judy Ailes, Ida Brauhn, Julie

Kudo, Audrey Pearl, Dale Ness and Pat Brown. The couple also

owns vacation rentals in Maui and the Snoqualmie Falls Driving

Range in Fall City.

"The opportunity [to buy Smokey Joe's] came up

and friends told us about it and we said, `Why not,'" Pamela

said. "We thought it'd be fun to have a pub."

Since the Lelands took over the business a little over a

year ago, they've added an outdoor beer garden that will be

open year-round, and changed the menu to include fresh

sandwiches and other items. Some favorites for lunch and

dinner- goers include the 1/2-pound burger with a side order

of "Joe's" (potato wedges) or the

1/2-pound super dog.

But Smokey Joe's still serves up its specialty — the

four-piece chicken dinner — which was made famous by previous

owner Baldwin "Baldy" Galloway.

"People come from all around for the chicken,"

Pamela said. "We have a salesman who will stop by every time he's

in town to buy some roasted chicken."

Currently the tavern boasts 14 beers on tap - four

domestic and 10 micro brews - which could possibly be the

biggest beer selection in the Valley. They also have pull tabs, pool

tournaments, video games and a big screen television for sports fans.

"We have people in here of all ages. There's parents

who come with their kids [who are of age] and grandparents with

the whole family," Jim said. "It's for everybody."

And practically everyone in town used to hang out at

Smokey Joe's, according to Joanne Galloway, whose late husband

Baldy owned the tavern from the early 1970s until 1992.

"Being a small town neighborhood tavern, we were kind

of like `Cheers,' where everybody knew each other's name,"

she said.

But Smokey Joe's wasn't always called Smokey

Joe's. Joanne said when they bought the business, one of the

previous owners decided to name it Ye Olde Lumberjacks. That

name never caught on with the locals, however, so the

Galloways changed it back to Smokey Joe's when they bought it.

In the two decades that the Galloways owned Smokey

Joe's, Joanne said one of the things she remembers most was the

annual picnic at Rattlesnake Lake where all the patrons of the tavern

drank beer and ate fried chicken. But her fondest memories come

from the company train rides.

"We would rent the trains in the summer and ride to the

Falls and then to North Bend," she said. "One time we rented

the train the whole night and went back and forth and back

and forth.

"They kept raising the price and raising the price every

year because we were so rowdy," Joanne added with a laugh.

Though the Lelands might not have heard about the

wild train rides or picnics in the park, every day they are learning

a little bit more about the history of Smokey Joe's and the

people who visit.

"Meeting the people is really fun and listening to their

stories," Pamela said. "With us not growing up in the Valley ourselves,

it's good hearing the people in the Valley tell all."

Smokey Joe's is located at 38600 S.E. King St. and

can be reached at (425) 831-6978. Smokey Joe's Happy Hour

is from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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