EVERETT — The white buffalo is back.
Instead of a sentry on the sidewalk along Evergreen Way, it’s ruminating on the roof.
The life-sized statue in front of White Buffalo Saloon was a roadside attraction and inebriated person’s distraction.
Then one day it was gone.
What’s up with that?
The buffalo underwent a 10-month rehab after suffering a broken leg and other injuries in an attempted abduction in late 2017.
No wonder the theft was foiled. The cast aluminum buffalo is a stout 400 pounds. A forklift hoisted the thing onto the roof, where it stares down at the stampede of traffic. At night, the buffalo glows from above with lights underfoot. It’s cabled to the roof and not going anywhere.
The void in front of the bar at 5614 Evergreen Way sparked concern.
“Everyday, people would literally call and say, ‘Where did the white buffalo go?’” said bar co-owner Brian Rebeschini.
“People who were not customers came in to see where the buffalo was,” added business partner Ian Hunt.
The buffalo arrived on the bar scene about five years ago. It had been a cherished possession of a frequenter’s mom.
“It was a brown buffalo,” Rebeschini said. “His mom’s house was something. From the light switch covers to the salt-and-pepper shakers were buffaloes. Some people collect those little roosters. She collected buffaloes. That was her thing.”
When she had to move to a nursing home, the buffalo statue needed new pastures.
The bar owners scored it for about $700 and painted it white.
The sidewalk statue was an overnight sensation and sometimes headache.
“It was not meant to be ridden and everyone was trying to ride it,” Rebeschini said.
Still, it held up well, even after a blow through the head with a sledgehammer two years ago.
Then someone used brutal force to try to snatch it last year. The thieves were not able to finish the job they started and left the maimed figure with detached leg and horn behind.
It cost about $1,000 to mend the buffalo, which was re-welded and repainted in the backroom of the bar regulars call “The Buff.”
The inside of the bar, known for pool, pizza and pull tabs, is not decorated in buffalo. The decor is beer signs and TVs. There’s not even a drink named after the buffalo, maybe because it doesn’t have a name.
“We’ve thought about having a name-the-buffalo contest,” Hunt said.
Rebeschini and his wife Beth Glass opened the bar 22 years ago with Hunt, his buddy from Washington State University.
“A white buffalo is the sign of good times to come, of good fortunes,” Rebeschini said.
They also own Twin Foxes in downtown Everett and Town Pump Tavern in Mount Vernon.
The story behind the Twin Foxes name? That goes to Hunt. It’s after a bar in England where his family used to drink.
The story is there were two poachers and their last name was Fox.
On the muddled strip of business-after-business on Evergreen Way where it’s easy to lose your bearings, the white buffalo is about 10 blocks away from another handy landmark, that stuffed gorilla with a giant vacuum cleaner. It’s a mile or so from the 20-foot Muffler Man on the roof of the building at 1110 Hewitt Ave.
“There are lots of times I’ll tell someone I was at ‘The Buff’ and people don’t know where I’m talking about,” said Herald social media producer Ben Watanabe, who pops in at least once a week at the end of a day. “As soon as I mention it’s the place with an actual white buffalo statue out front, they know.”
Where the buffalo once stood on the sidewalk is a partitioned smoking area.
On the roof, the buffalo isn’t exposed to secondhand smoke or patrons fueled by liquid courage eager to hop atop an albino bison.
Kajsa Pivko, a bartender for 12 years, said the buffalo commanded respect as well as riders.
“It was cute when the kids would come by with their parents,” Pivko said. “We had a lot of scavenger hunts going on and people would have to get their picture with the buffalo.”
Selfie-takers now take tilted vertical photos, no easy task after a few drinks.
“I miss him being down below,” Pivko said.