Decades after indoor smoking became illegal, I still expect to see and smell the smoke when I walk into the Buzz Inn Steakhouse on Evergreen Way in south Everett.
That’s all long gone, a vestige of when restaurants had smoking and non-smoking sections.
Today, it’s still the same neighborhood fixture, only well-ventilated. The split between the bar and the restaurant remains the same, with a narrow walkway connecting the two, though the restaurant’s former mounted menu sign is gone.
As someone born in Everett shortly after the first Buzz Inn opened and having spent the majority of my life in town, the steakhouse has always been part of the fabric of Snohomish County to me.
Owner Bill Tackitt bought the first one in 1981 when it was the Buzz Inn Tavern and Bee Hive Cafe at 3615 Broadway in Everett. The next year, he merged them into the Buzz Inn Steakhouse with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Tackitt is still the majority owner, and today, Buzz Inn Steakhouse is a local chain with 12 locations across the state — including one with a casino in East Wenatchee.
All but three are in Snohomish County: in Arlington, Everett, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Marysville, Monroe and Snohomish.
Their expansive menu is generally American fare, with burgers, chicken fried steak, pancakes, salads, steaks, waffles and wraps. A lot of meat-forward dishes, a lot of fried options, and a lot of comfort and familiarity.
The restaurants offer daily specials, a weekly Monday night sirloin steak special and a soup, salad and sandwich special, as well as happy hour offerings in the bars.
The Evergreen Buzz Inn is often where my family went for birthdays, Father’s and Mother’s Day celebrations. Few other places could satisfy the disparate appetites in the family: a Salisbury steak with mashed potatoes for mom, a French dip sandwich and fries (or a salad, rarely) for dad, fried chicken tenders and burgers for my brothers and I.
In adulthood, whichever Buzz Inn is closest when the craving hits has become a go-to haunt.
Like any chain, the decor is consistent across the restaurants in Snohomish County. Some stone masonry inside and outside, lots of wood along the walls lined with booths, some tables on the floor, a dark wooden bar with high stools. The similarities mean if you’ve visited one, you know what to expect at the other in terms of the aesthetic.
Some of the bars carry different looks. One has baseball hats tacked to the ceiling, another old bicycles atop the back of the bar.
But each of the Inns carry their own charms and yarns, reasons to visit when you’re seeking a certain kind of familiar comfort. Read on a for a not-ranked ranked list, that skews toward my convenience and proximity.
Snohomish Buzz Inn, 9900 Airport Way, Snohomish
Guests can watch small planes take off and land at Harvey Airfield, and marvel as skydivers return to the ground billowed by colorful parachutes dotting the open blue sky.
The large outdoor patio is great for taking in the sights of the Snohomish Valley, especially on a sunny, warm day. Open-air space helps make up for the tight feel of the bar.
Separated from the rest of the downtown crowd by the river, the pace can feel as meandering as the waterway, punctuated by the sound of plane engines and propellers whirring.
It’s really hard to beat being there on a nice day, having a bite and a cool drink.
Broadway Buzz Inn, 3121 Broadway, Everett
Living near the Broadway Buzz Inn since it relocated in 2016, I’ve gotten familiar with the bar’s high stools, its bombardment of television screens, the weekly poker nights in the banquet room, and the tempting dessert display case near the front doors.
I’ve lost more than I’ve won playing pull-tabs, at least in terms of money, at this bar. But sometimes the gamble is too strong and it’s fun to be a little reckless trying to spin $40 into a a few hundred with a quick tab rip.
The spacious bar is suitable for birthdays, watching football games, hosting fantasy football drafts, and “Fireball Fridays.” But it doesn’t need to be a special occasion for a visit. Sometimes the urge for a dozen Buffalo sauce wings, a T-bone steak (“blue” if you want it “rare-rare,” like my friend) and a couple of pints pulls me in on a Tuesday.
A small stage near the enormous projector screen hosts live bands, including my stepfather’s classic rock cover band at least once. Not to sound like a lush, but the details of the evening(s) are fuzzy as I sprint into my late 30s.
Evergreen Buzz Inn, 9910 Evergreen Way, Everett
I’ve had too many memorable evenings with friends to count here, including a couple of New Year’s Eves that stand out for sad and joyous reasons.
Its narrow bar makes for a lively feel with 10 people, though it often hosts far more.
Hats hang from the ceiling as a visual pop for those who care to gaze up. A row of pull-tab bins beckons alongside the drinking options for anyone who feels lucky. TVs broadcast sports for a nice distraction.
The deep booths against the wall help create a sense of privacy. The sturdy bar lets you sidle up for a prime spot.
The restaurant patio looks out over the busy road with umbrellas for protection from the sun.
Marysville Buzz Inn, 1065 State Ave.
Marysville’s Buzz Inn has slaked my thirst after a round of golf and before a night of escape room fun.
But that building is no more, or at least not as a Buzz Inn.
In April 2023, it relocated from its former spot just down the road on State Avenue. The new location is much larger and the space doesn’t have the short steps down to the lounge of the old space.
Getting rid of the steps should help with patrons like me whose steps get a little uncertain after a few rounds.
Lake Stevens Buzz Inn, 1801 Main St.
You might catch Tackitt, who lives in Lake Stevens, enjoying a burger and chatting with some of the longtime employees and other guests.
Located in downtown near the lake and North Cove Park, it’s a convenient and somewhat secluded spot far from the mayhem of Highway 9.
Less than 1 mile from the Centennial Trail, it also appeals to people who have biked, run and walked the paved path.
I’ve popped in for a beer and bites in the middle of a trail ride a few times, and the coziness of its space at the end of a small business strip offers a perfect respite.
Granite Falls Buzz Inn, 109 S Granite Ave.
On a recent visit, the front windows had Independence Day-themed paintings in red, white and blue that bolstered the small-town charm of this location.
Some weekday lunch regulars popped into the bar while I lingered, in a space that feels large and small at the same time. This makes for a good stop to and from the outdoor offerings along the Mountain Loop Highway.
Arlington Buzz Inn, 5200 172nd St. NE
This spot off of Highway 531 has high ceilings in the bar that give it the feeling of being in a rustic lodge.
Not that a room is needed — a hotel is right behind it, just in case the night slips away from you.
The building stands out among the fields and recent development along the street. Its main doors lead into the restaurant with some front seating, then splits with a larger area for family dining on one side and the high-ceiling bar on the other.
Old bicycles perch atop behind the bar, a straight piece of wood that runs almost the half the length of the space.
Eastmont Buzz Inn, 9504 19th Ave. S.E., Everett
I think my parents announced they were getting a divorce here. Maybe it was the now-demolished Alfy’s next door or the Alfy’s on Broadway.
Aside from whatever childhood trauma skulks in my body, this is another true neighborhood spot. It’s separated by the freeway on one side, faces the Bothell-Everett Highway and isn’t far from Mill Creek and Silver Lake. There’s a cannabis shop next door in case drinking, eating and gambling can’t sate your cravings.
As the area builds up, I imagine it will continue to be the locals’ watering hole for years to come, and rightly so.
Monroe Buzz Inn, 18960 U.S. 2
A helpful stop on the way to and from Stevens Pass and other parts of east Snohomish County, including the Evergreen State Fair.
Out of all the Buzz Inn locations in the county, I’ve spent the least amount of time here. But when I’ve gone in, it’s nice to feel like you’ll know what to expect.
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