Monday, July 12, 2010

RIP Chillers, Say Hello to the Hogfish

When Chillers announced last week that it would soon become yet another sordid chapter in Coeur d'Alene bar history, everyone's first thought was "oh great, where am I going to get my Bolivian marching powder now?" Or not. The legendarily squalid, semi-beloved lounge was in the headlines recently after it was accused by the Feds of being the headquarters for a quaint little 20-year cocaine operation, to the surprise of absolutely nobody.

The east Sherman Avenue bar has had a rowdy reputation forever, since long before it was Chillers even, back when it was known as the Steinhaus, then Beta's Place (or as I seem to recall many locals lovingly called it, "Beat-Em-Ups"). Back in the 70s, when it was still perfectly acceptable to drag your child into a smoky dive bar and get tanked, it was one of my mother's haunts, and I became the Pinball Kid of Beta's by the time I was five. Just call me Tommy, I guess.

I hadn't been into Chillers since 1997, when a friend lived on Front Street directly behind the place. It was handy, so we used to pop in once in a while, but I seem to recall it being surprisingly mellow. However, we purposefully avoided going anywhere near the place on Friday and Saturday nights, when disturbingly sexy, Bud Light-wielding mullet heads in stained tank tops would roam free to the tune of Def Leppard on the jukebox or performed live by a kindred-in-fashion cover band.

In more recent years, it seemed to become a hot place to go slumming for the college crowd,and I've heard nothing but nice things about recent staff but the reputation remained seedy and the coke bust prompted the now-elderly Beta to finally sell the building.

The place didn't have a chance to gather one spec of dust. Former Shore Lounge manager Whitney Hall has purchased the operation, and the transition was instant, literally. Hall has rechristened it the "Hogfish Bar and Grill" (inspired perhaps by the Key West hot spot of the same name?) and the ink on the paperwork couldn't have even been dry yet when she made this announcement yesterday afternoon on Facebook:

"Tonight is the last official night of The Chillers bar in CDA, at 8 pm myself and my partners will take possession of the bar!!!! Come down and show Linda who has been operating Chillers for the last decade + some love AND after 8pm help us jump start the beginning of some amazing times, great memories and I'm sure a little debauchery down at The HOG!" (Hogfish Bar and Grill Facebook)

And so it is. I haven't heard wind of any plans or details about renovations or menu or anything else for that matter, but I can only assume the plan is to glitz the place up a bit and attempt to shake its shady eastside image and bring it out of the 80s and into the 21st century. I'm picturing a Moon Time/Capones vibe, although that's pure speculation. Clicking the blue Facebook thingybox on the right side of this page and "liking" the Get Out North Idaho page will likely be the best way to stay updated on Hogfish developments.

1 comment:

Bay Views said...

I'm kinda wondering what with all of the under cover law enforcement, whether the seating capacity will allow for paying customers.