Deanna VanderVate, 48, is a bartender at The Paddle Pub in Stanwood. She calls it her second home. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Deanna VanderVate, 48, is a bartender at The Paddle Pub in Stanwood. She calls it her second home. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

The bar’s had different names, but she’s always called it home

Deanna VanderVate pours drinks at The Paddle Pub, formerly the Roadhouse Bar & Grill.

For more than two decades, Deanna VanderVate has tended bar at 4915 Lakewood Road near Lake Goodwin.

It was known as The Roadhouse Bar & Grill when she started working there in 1996. In 2015, husband-and-wife duo Ryan and Kari Steeves took over and renamed it The Paddle Pub. VanderVate stuck around.

Here, VanderVate, 48, of Stanwood, talks about how she got into bartending, what her superpower would be and her oddest drink request.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I love the customers. And, being here for so long, I’ve seen a lot of people grow older. It’s been 20 some years and I still see some of the same faces.

How did you become a bartender?

I started out as a bus girl at this Mexican restaurant called El Toro in Marysville, and it just worked into being at the bar from there. I just like meeting new people. I’m a people person.

What brought you to The Roadhouse?

The place I was working at sold, but the owner (of The Roadhouse) was a friend. He said, “I want you to come work for me.” That’s how I ended up here.

Why did you stay after it closed?

The new owner was a friend, too. I went to the same school as Ryan Steeves (Lakewood High School). There are only two of us who are still here from before — my aunt Donna VanderVate works here, too.

Did things change inside?

Yes. They changed the carpet, tables, TVs — all of it. It needed a facelift because it was very old-school. It’s great. We’re really busy.

What do you think of The Paddle Pub?

I call it my second home. Everybody’s like, “Do you have a bed here?” I just feel comfortable here.

Do you have any favorite memories from the past 20 years?

When Johnathan Hillstrand from “Deadliest Catch” came to The Roadhouse on July 11, 2013. He was in town getting his motorcycle worked on. He ordered a rum and coke.

What are your favorite cocktails on The Paddle Pub’s menu?

I have a few. Endless Summer has vodka, peach, strawberry puree, Sprite and pineapple juice. Shoecraft Bloody Mary is made with 17 different ingredients, including horseradish, pepper and tomato juice, and it’s served with bacon, celery and olives. Then there’s Orange Crush, which has vanilla vodka, orange vodka and orange juice. It tastes like a creamsicle.

What’s the most unusual drink request you’ve had?

Brain Tumor. When you make it, you put grenadine in Baileys Irish Cream and Peach Schnapps and it curdles, and becomes like a brain — a red, creamy and brown nasty thing. It looks disgusting. I haven’t made that one in a long time.

Do you have a philosophy when you serve customers?

I treat people how I want to be treated — with respect.

What’s one thing you wish more people understood about your job?

It’s a big responsibility. Every single person is different, as far as how many drinks you give them. You have to make a judgment call, read people and cut them off at a certain point.

If bartenders could have superpowers, what would yours be?


Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.

If you go

The Paddle Pub, 4915 Lakewood Road, Stanwood, is open from 9 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 360-652-4156 or go to

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