Douglas bar, sold at auction, reopens

DOUGLAS, Alaska — A Douglas bar, seized by the federal government for failure to pay taxes, has a new owner — and a new name.

Louie’s Douglas Inn, originally known as The Douglas Inn, opened Tuesday.

The bar was auctioned off last year, after the IRS said former owner Patrick Peterson failed to pay about $1 million in taxes. It was bought for $145,000 by James and Arbe Williams with their daughter, Abigail Trucano, who owns and operates it.

They made heavy investments in renovations, which Arbe Williams said aren’t quite done yet. But Williams said it was important the bar open its doors, particularly with the July 4 holiday approaching. The bar has served as a hub for neighborhood festivities in the past.

“We may have been run out of town if we didn’t do that,” Arbe Williams said. “Or we’d all be standing on the steps like everyone was last year.”

Arbe Williams said Douglas “needed its neighborhood bar back.” The business was built in 1937 and has generally been in operation since.

The bar was named after Louie Pusich, a former owner who was on hand for the reopening, the Juneau Empire reported (http://bit.ly/1jK5Jl6 ). Pusich said he inherited it in 1974.

The look of the bar has changed. There’s a more open layout, for example, new fixtures and exposed brick.

“I think it’s a little too high class for Douglas,” Pusich said with a laugh.

Sherill Baxter, who has tended bar at the business for at least 20 years, through several changes in ownership, was helping serve drinks on opening night.

She said her best memories are of the people. “You know, it’s just like one big family,” she said. “It’s the living room of Douglas.”

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