At retirement home, age is better with wine and beer

  • Mon Sep 8th, 2014 4:58pm

By Andrea Brown Herald Writer

Park your walker and belly up to the bar.

Residents at Quail Park of Lynnwood get two free drinks a day at an on-site pub.

It’s not a rowdy slurp fest, but there’s lots of clinking at the assisted living center with apartment living for 117 residents.

“Our average is probably 70 to 80 glasses of wine a day, in two hours time,” said Cathy Lukehart, staff bartender. “That’s why I get the big bottles. Yeah, we go through a lot.”

Bartender is her official job title here. It’s on her name tag. The bar even has an official name, Bailey’s Pub.

“By the end of the year they’re hoping to get a whole liquor license,” Lukehart said.

Manhattans. Dirty martinis. Smoky martinis. Bring it on. She’s ready.

In her 40 years in the bar industry, she’s served rock stars at The Edgewater hotel in Seattle, the Chinese ambassador in his Queen Anne home and locals at Razzals Grill &Sports Bar in Everett.

Lukehart, 66, likes her current gig serving beer, wine, spritzers and champagne cocktails to patrons she doesn’t have to card or cut off, though she does have to charge them $3.50 after the free two-drink quota.

The bright yet cozy pub has seating at the bar and big table by the flat screen TV. Down the hall is a billiards room where residents can take their drinks to shoot pool or watch sports after an afternoon at the on-site spa and pool.

Senior communities are no longer the rocking chair/bingo parlors of the past. Most don’t have distinct pubs, though many offer wine with meals, which have gone from mushy peas to gourmet dining.

Quail Park doesn’t have a cannabis lounge. Well, at least, not yet. But this is, after all the state of Washington, where even the beloved George namesake gets depicted smoking a joint. Medical marijuana is the topic of this month’s Quail Park guest speaker, followed by a talk next month on recreational pot.

Residents live at Quail Park for social as well as health reasons. Bailey’s Pub is a place to chat, flirt and laugh. The TV stays off unless the Seahawks are playing.

“There’s always somebody who has a story to tell,” said Jan Elder, who chases her dinner-time meds with water and non-alcoholic white wine.

“I’ve drank more beer since I moved in here than I drank in my life,” said Lyn Burrell. “We talk a lot and my mouth gets dry and the beer, they serve it ice cold.”

Marcy Freed comes for the company and the Merlot. “When I lived in my house I was very isolated,” she said. As for wine, “I only drink red because it has antioxidants in it. I know what’s good for me.”

Mary Sordel moved from her Chicago home into Quail Park without knowing anybody or that there was a bar on-site. “It didn’t take me long to find out, dear,” she said. Or to make friends.

Gunnar Johannesson’s wife died in February. “It wasn’t until about two months ago that I started laughing again,” he said.

Face it, there’s something fun about a bar atmosphere, where you’re 21 or 91.

Bailey’s Pub is open from 4 to 7:30 p.m., seven days a week.

Katie Matthews, activity director, said it fits with the mindset of this generation of seniors.

“They’re feisty and they love to laugh,” she said. “About half of the residents have the free daily limit.”

On Fridays, it’s the daily double, when the activity department hosts their own happy hour with two free drinks before the pub opens.

“They like Friday,” Matthews said.

Teetotalers also partake.

“We also have a lot of non-alcoholic products,” said Lukehart, who added that about a third of the drinks she pours are alcohol-free. “Because some people don’t drink or don’t drink anymore.”

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; Twitter: @reporterbrown.