Making your way down Vancouver, you may have seen and wondered about Sloan’s Tavern, the business at the corner of Vancouver and N. Russell that has a semi-truck cab jutting from its side. Curious myself, I wandered into Sloan’s Tavern to get the scoop.
In 1959, the Sloan family first came to Eliot to rent a space for their body shop, Sloan’s Custom Body and Paint, which still does business today. The body shop stood next to the Gay Paree tavern, which itself had been in business for almost 30 years and had been an anchor of the then-bustling Russell Street. When Gay Paree came up for sale, Shirley and Bob Sloan decided to purchase the space and grow their family business. After an extensive remodeling project, Sloan’s Tavern opened for business in 1979.
Shirley Sloan notes that Sloan’s décor is “definitely ‘70’s”, and that little has changed to the interior of the tavern since 1979. A final touch to the remodel was the addition of the semi-truck cab, which Bob Sloan had sitting in the auto-body shop. He thought that adding it to the exterior of Sloan’s Tavern might pique the curiosity of passer-by. Shirley notes that Bob’s hunch was right; people regularly come into the tavern to see if they can sit inside the cab (no spoilers here–find out for yourself!), and end up staying for a drink or a bite to eat.
Sloan’s Tavern is truly a family business. While Bob Sloan passed away in 2013, Shirley and her adult children continue to run the tavern and the body shop next door. Sloan’s Tavern prides itself on its fresh, delicious food; most of the food on the menu is homemade, from the tavern’s famed fish-n-chips that are made in a beer batter of Shirley’s own recipe with a side of hand-cut fries, to the dressing atop the salads. The tavern is beloved by a host of regulars, many who have been coming several times a week since the tavern’s opening. Shirley smiles as she says that getting to know many of these regulars has been one of the best parts of owning the tavern.
The space feels homey and welcoming, with soothing gold tones and soft lighting. Tucked above the tavern’s jukebox is an old-time Chicago Coin Band-Box, where inserting $0.25 results in figurines dancing, blowing horns, and clashing cymbals in time to the jukebox’s music. This Chicago Coin Band-Box is one of the last remaining on location in the country. The tavern also has a pool table and poker machines.
The winter is upon us, and if you are looking for a place to spend time with friends, perhaps playing a game of pool or gathering before a Blazers game, Sloan’s Tavern is the spot.
Sloan’s Tavern, at 36 N. Russell St., is open from 11am-10pm Mon-Thursday, and 11am-12am on Friday’s. The tavern is closed on the weekends and on holidays. Lunch specials are served daily.
By Alexandra Weinstein