Monday, July 19, 2010

Centralia first stop (Olympic Club)

  I stopped off in Centralia last month to check out the two brewing operations there, and began with McMenamin's Olympic Club downtown. Talk about ambiance: this place absolutely takes the cake! It's a hundred-year-old railroad hotel (Amtrak still stops just a block away).  Quoting from one of their fliers, about its first decade, before Prohibition:
  The Olympic Club's opulent furnishings of mahogany paneling, ceramic-tiled floor, tiffany-style lamps and Belgian crystal glassware lured many folks in the door, but it was the club's other attractions that brought them back.  Early advertisements refer to the Olympic Club as a 'gentlemen's resort,' and this was no exaggeration. Under one roof, men could get a good shave and haircut, eat a well-cooked meal of soup and steak, enjoy fine Cuban cigars and a wide selection of liquors, and partake in spirited games of pool and poker (not to mention other distractions provided by the women working in the adjacent, upper-story Oxford Hotel)....Incredibly,too, the club's turn-of-the-century setting remains virtually unchanged, with most all of its original furnishings in place and in working order--including several pool tables.  Truly, the Olympic Club's only notable 'modernization' of the last eight decades is that women are now welcome. [Downstairs!--ed.]
  You walk in through an entry parlor and see the main bar, a massive twenty-foot stretch of mahogany  At the end, a huge cast iron stove guards the way to the dining area and the seven pool tables.  One of them is set up for snooker, said to be a harder game than regular pool.  The pool area is lined with old photos of customers on the site back when, and booths for more private dining.  The one small brew kettle on the site is past this area:  a staff member told me it is used to make small batches of seasonal brews to satisfy the state minimum production requirement for a brewpub license.  Most of the McMenamin brands on tap come from the brothers' larger production breweries elsewhere
  As you proceed down the hall, you pass a separate bar area, called the New Tourist Bar.  While this appears to be a full-service bar, one of its distinct functions is to sell movie tickets.  At the end of the hall is a small cinema.  Original art lines the walls and sofas with tables (for your beers or other beverages) are provided for the patrons.  Pick up their eight-page brochure, A Walking Guide to the Art & History of the Olympic Club Hotel and Theater to get the stories behind these paintings.  They show several movies a day, including G-rated stuff in the afternoon.  I saw a mom bringing her kiddies in to watch Furry Vengeance while I was there.
  Most of the art is upstairs, in what is again a functioning hotel after falling into disuse for decades. I was surprised at how low the room rates were.  I was not able to roam the halls: The overnight guests are allowed their privacy until 11 a.m. and after that a tourist has to be accompanied by a staff member upstairs. An overnight stay at the O.C. is definitely on my agenda for a future outing.
(Visited 06/11/10)

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