Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse owners Mark “Chewey” and Ginger Nuss at the “staff table” inside the pub on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse owners Mark “Chewey” and Ginger Nuss at the “staff table” inside the pub on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

As owner faces health scare, patrons rally around Snohomish bar

Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse owners Mark “Chewey” Nuss and his wife, Ginger, face mounting medical bills and home care costs.

SNOHOMISH — The pub was filled with the happy noise of chatter and clinks.

But Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse is ailing.

More specifically, the owners of Fred’s, known for its selection of Scotch whisky and craft beer, are personally struggling.

Mark “Chewey” Nuss, 64, suffered a stroke in October 2021 and, compounding matters, broke three ribs in a recent fall. Ginger, his wife and primary caregiver, now comes to the pub only once a week.

Before his stroke, they were at the bar every day. It is now closed on Wednesdays.

“We are doing what we can, putting one foot in front of the other, to keep going,” she said. “It’s a day-to-day battle with health issues and trying to run a business.”

This comes when they are still trying to rebound from the toll of the pandemic on their bar at 1114 First St. in the downtown historic district. The bar employs 25 and, like most, has staffing challenges.

The couple lives in Stanwood, a 45-minute drive in good traffic.

Mark Nuss, mainly confined to home, made a rare appearance at Fred’s earlier this week.

“Pretty cool,” he said, as he sat at Table 1 in the very back. It gives an overview of the single-room saloon with 14 wooden tables and the long bar lined with bottles of spirits. The pub has 34 tap handles and over 160 single malt scotches.

An assortment of beer tap handles and other mementos cover the walls of Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

An assortment of beer tap handles and other mementos cover the walls of Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Notified that “Chewey” would be there, friends stopped by.

He embraced a series of “hey buddy, I love you, man” shoulder pats from guys and hugs from women.

Servers hustled through the aisles with trays of drinks and plates of Asian nachos and Jagger fries, popular menu items.

Barstools were elbow to elbow with patrons enjoying a cold one or two.

Frederic Gibbs, a longtime friend and patron, started an online fundraiser to raise $25,000 for the pub.

“It has been kind of a town hall and an unofficial community center,” Gibbs said. “Mark was my first friend in Snohomish.”

About $14,000 of the goal has been reached.

“For over 15 years, Mark and his wife Ginger have poured their hearts and souls into making Fred’s a warm, inviting gathering place and cornerstone of the historic downtown district,” the fundraiser says. “The Nusses and the Fred’s crew have always been there to offer ‘sweat equity’ and financial support to the community.”

The Nusses, who were longtime customers, but not in the bar industry, took over ownership of Fred’s in 2009. They kept the name, the menu and the employees. And the clientele kept them.

“Snohomish is lucky to have this institution, and they made it possible for it to stay here,” said Tom Cowper, a Fred’s patron for 30 years. “Fred’s was the leader in bringing in alternative beers to this town.”

Mark Nuss served with the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce and Historic Downtown Snohomish Association over the years. He was active before the stroke.

“We met sailboat racing,” Andy Leight said. “A lot of us guys used to hang out here 25 years ago. Fred’s definitely has a vibe.”

While some were there to see “Chewey” on Tuesday, others were there just because.

Customers fill Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Customers fill Fred’s Rivertown Alehouse on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“We’ve been coming here for more than decade for the Asian nachos,” Jared Wakefield said. “It’s got some peanut sauce, meat and cheese, onions and sriracha, which I live on.”

He was joined by Kyle Veach. The buddies sometimes bring their kids, six total.

“It’s the best old-timey bar. Good beer, good food,” Veach said. “We’ve never left disappointed.”

At Table 1, Mark Nuss looked around his pub and reflected on what he misses.

“The friendship,” he said. “I love Snohomish.”

It loves him back.

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

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