The transformation of The Swiss in Tacoma

By Ron Swarner on April 16, 2014

There's something to be said for being the only one. The outpost, colors snapping in the immaterial breeze, bastion of cool, temple of special. The Swiss Tavern was that, once - 21 years ago, in a galaxy remarkably similar to the one we now inhabit.

For those unfamiliar with the terrain, downtown Tacoma hasn't always been the beautiful specimen it is today. There used to be buildings hanging by a nail, people sleeping on colorful plastic in the Greyhound station, tumbleweeds. There were old folks who'd lived here for 50 years who weren't going anywhere no matter what, damn it. And there sure as hell wasn't any expensive coffee or glass bridge. There were no fancy lofts, no condos, no valet parking, no Tacoma Link (dollar fee or not). There was absolutely zero downtown.

Then, landlords sold out to the agents of The Future. The museums were built. Colleges erected. Devotees flocked from the hinterlands. Rents were raised. The little people got, as usual, their customary part of the stick. Some found themselves in the "No. 1 Wired City"; others bought chain mail and moved their tribes to East Tacoma.

Through it all, the Swiss Tavern - or, to the initiated, The Swiss - stood alone.

Read the full story on The Swiss Restaurant & Pub's 21st anniversary.