Engel’s Pub: An Edmonds institution

By Maria Montalvo | Dec 02, 2017
Photo by: Brian Soergel

Edmonds is a place that revels in its history, its traditions and its institutions.

On Thanksgiving morning, as families across town were beginning meal preparations, we were lucky enough to be participating in another Edmonds tradition – putting off the cooking for a little longer and gathering with friends for a hearty brunch.

Several of us were talking about how everyone in Edmonds seems to go to the Bowl for drinks or dinner on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, and one member of our group said that for years, several generations of her family have met up on that night at Engel’s Pub.

This past Wednesday, it seemed that the whole town had the same idea, and Engel’s – at 113 Fifth Ave. S – was packed. It is clear that one of the oldest pubs in Washington is still an institution in Edmonds.

The Engel family operated the pub until 1981. The most recent change of ownership occurred this year, when Dawn Vineberg and her son purchased the location in July. “Our family has lived in Edmonds for more than 20 years, and we love the community,” Vinberg said. “We wanted to have a business here.”

Live music is one of the things that Engel’s is known for, and the new owners want to shake things up with more options while also respecting the heritage of the pub.

“We are one of the only places in the region where you can come in and sit 20 feet from a band to listen to exceptional live music with no cover,” Vinberg said. “Seattle has talented musicians, and we pride ourselves in bringing them here, just down the street.”

Engel’s is one of the only places for live music in Edmonds, and it is now offering live music four days a week while bringing in bigger names. Most recently, Grammy-nominated Stacy Jones performed with the Madison Avenue Blues Revue.

Upcoming shows with recognizable names include:

• Richard Allen and the Louisiana Experience (Acadian/nouveau Cajun) on Saturday, Dec. 9

• Rafael Tranquilino Band (modern rock/blues) on Friday, Dec. 15

• Tim Turner Band (classic rock/blues) on Friday, Dec. 22

You can still get a local beer on tap, play pool, dance and do karaoke, but there is a new energy at Engel’s and a new commitment to offer more of Edmonds’ residents an opportunity to experience one of the oldest bars in Washington.

“As the new owner of Engel’s, I am determined to keep as much of the local charm and appeal of this historic downtown venue in place,” Vinberg said. “We are also focusing on continuing to bring in quality live blues, rock, and dance music that we have been known for over the years.”

Like a handful of other long-standing bars in the state, Engel’s was established early. In 1934, in fact, by the Engel family, following the end of prohibition on Dec. 5, 1933. Legend has it that the location served liquor before it was a legally recognized pub, and that it was supplied from Canada with liquor being transported from a tunnel under what is now Daphne’s.

Engel’s is not only the longest continually operating business in the city, it is still operating under its original liquor license, the second oldest liquor license in the state!

I asked an Engel’s customer to explain the bar’s appeal. “I can’t put my finger on it,” was the reply. “Engel’s is still the same great place, but it’s a little lighter and brighter.”

Like so many things in Edmonds, the more things change, the more they stay (nearly) the same.

In Edmonds restaurant news: Edmonds newest restaurant, Barkada, will be opening soon! Edmonds resident Brian Madayag will open his own restaurant at 622 Fifth Ave. S at the former location of Baicha Tea Room. Madaya, who lives in Edmonds, is a former chef at Café Lena, a Tom Douglas restaurant, in Seattle. Look for this new addition next month.

Got an idea for a restaurant review or some news of your own? Share your favorite dining and arts experiences to artsandappetite@gmail.com.


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