By Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
The Anchor Pub is silent. No one is there to hear the clink of glasses, the chatter of friends, or the rumble of a passing train.
Since 1907, those sounds have echoed through the tavern at the foot of Everett’s Hewitt Avenue. There have been interruptions, starting with Everett’s “Local Option” dry period in 1911, followed by state and then federal Prohibition, which lasted through 1933. And there have been business misfortunes.
Yet what started as Mulligan’s Saloon at 1001 Hewitt Ave. near the City Dock is known for its longevity as an Everett drinking establishment. “This building is unique, dating to the period before Everett dried up,” said David Dilgard, a local history specialist at the Everett Public Library. Drinks have been poured there “pretty consistently” for more than a century, he said.
Holly and Jeff Gibson were the latest business operators running The Anchor. The pub was a labor of love for the Everett couple, who opened their Anchor in 2009. With an interest in local history and live music, they worked to create a neighborhood gathering place.
There wasn’t enough business to sustain that dream.
“We were under-funded from the get-go,” Holly Gibson said Monday, a month after closing the pub’s doors for the last time.
Although word of the closure was out among regulars, they decided not to host a public goodbye. The Gibsons are in the midst of business bankruptcy proceedings. “It should be settled by the end of the month,” Holly Gibson said.
They don’t own the building, a wedge-shaped “flat-iron” structure. It’s just 10 feet from the railroad tracks, according to the Historic Everett organization. The preservation group featured The Anchor in its 2013 calendar, “Saloons and Brothels.”
Rick Lapinski, a commercial real estate broker in Everett, owns it. He bought the building in 1996 and did extensive renovations. “With its historic nature, I didn’t want to change it too much. I did a new facade, seismic improvements, a new roof, plumbing and electrical,” Lapinski said Tuesday.
“Holly and Jeff worked really hard,” he said. “It was sad to see them have to file a bankruptcy. It wasn’t for lack of hard work.”
The 3,000-square-foot building was appraised about four months ago, Lapinski said. The appraised value was $625,000. He hasn’t officially put it on the market, but has heard from people interested in reopening the tavern.
“Everett is on the verge of changing,” he said, mentioning the nearby farmers market project and proposed apartments.
The current traffic wasn’t enough for the Gibsons. They were the fourth owners of the business since 2000, Holly Gibson said. “You’ve got to have that walk-by clientele,” she said. “We needed more visibility. That, and food. Our average sale was $8. We needed $15.”
It was their plan to have a full kitchen at The Anchor. They couldn’t get financing at the start. “I’m a foodie,” said Holly Gibson, 50. A native of Ontario, Canada, she said she once worked as a chef aboard yachts.
“We opened our doors in January 2009. We made the deal the week before banks crashed in September 2008. We went in with the idea of getting a loan for a kitchen,” she said. They applied for loans, but credit was tight.
They had help from the community. “We had volunteers and donations. Lots of neighbors gave their time and cash,” Gibson said.
As a nod to The Anchor’s history, they served $1 beer when a train went by. The Anchor became a venue for area musicians, rockabilly bands in particular. They hosted political gatherings and annual observances of the Everett Massacre anniversary. The waterfront labor strife on Nov. 5, 1916 left at least seven people dead.
Jeff Gibson’s background is in landscape design, and the couple has also worked painting boats. Now, Holly Gibson has a fresh start at a former career.
She teaches meditation and other classes at the CDM Spiritual Teaching Center, where she previously worked. “I’m back to something that’s good for me,” she said.
She acknowledged having fears about drinkers leaving The Anchor, perhaps driving when they shouldn’t have been behind the wheel. “How could you not worry? How long could you do this and not have something bad happen?” she said.
“My intent down there was to have a clean, neighborhood bar — like ‘Cheers,’” she said. The place had its regulars. “It was hard for some people to let go. It’s a lot more fun opening a bar than closing one,” Gibson said.
Dilgard credits the couple for their vision of what The Anchor could be. “Both were sincerely interested in that heritage,” he said.
“They were the right people for that spot,” Dilgard said. “Business conditions didn’t rise to the occasion.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.