“Revive the dive.”
Some bartenders might get upset seeing this phrase scribbled on their freshly painted bathroom walls. But at Tubb’s Tavern, when staff noticed a customer had left this three-word message behind, they didn’t take offense.
They put it on T-shirts.
“We wanted to make a dump,” owner Dave Campbell said. “The great American dive bar is something that’s going out the door.”
Tubb’s, located at 118 W. Holly St., opened in December.
Campbell chose the spot, which used to be home to the Three Trees Coffeehouse, in order to bridge the gap left by a downtown Bellingham bar scene situated on opposite ends of Holly Street.
Jessika Bowman, the bar’s beer tender, described Tubb’s as simply a dark hole to drink beer in. She said the staff has already been getting to know regulars two months after opening.
“It’s really homey. Everyone that comes in, we talk to them and we know them,” Bowman said. “It’s a cozy, clean dive.”
Inside, beer posters and neon signs fill Tubb’s burnt orange walls. An air hockey table is tucked inside a small alcove near the front and a Big Buck Hunter pinball machine sits right at the entrance. Booths and tables against both walls lead to an L-shaped bar in the back.
Customer Nate Justice said he prefers places like Tubb’s over more upscale bars and dance clubs. The new bar is a perfect fit for downtown Bellingham, he said.
“I like these little dives where you can just chill and have beer with your buddies,” Justice said.
His friend Dennis Hayes agreed. The bar has a relaxed atmosphere and great selection of beers, Hayes said.
“It suits our rock-n-roll lifestyle,” he said.
Beer variety is a major component to Tubb’s, Campbell said. A genuine love for beer was a main reason Campbell decided to open the bar in the first place.
Tubb’s has close to 40 different selections, both bottled and on tap.
Along with beers such as Miller High Life and Pabst, it also serves a wide selection of Northwest microbrews including the Pike Brewing Company, Ninkasi Brewing Company and Georgetown Brewing Company, makers of Manny’s Pale Ale.
“We’re really active for introducing beers,” Campbell said. “When a keg blows, it’s not going to be back for awhile.”
Campbell said he has plans to possibly offer other types of alcohol, such as whiskey, in the future.
For now, he and his staff are happy settling in and getting to know the people who come in for a drink.
The bar holds a karaoke night every Wednesday, and the staff is considering organizing future trivia nights.
But aside from the beer and the customer-oriented attitude, it’s the laid-back character that makes the bar unique, Campbell said.
Dive bars, which Campbell said have been a part of American culture for generations, provide a simple, easygoing atmosphere welcoming to everyone.
It’s that exact atmosphere he wants Tubb’s to bring out, from its dark-lit interior and always-revolving beer offerings all the way down to the slogan, fittingly provided by a passing customer: Revive the dive.
“We want everybody to feel comfortable,” Campbell said. “You don’t have to wear a miniskirt, you can wear sweat pants and Pumas and everyone will think you’re awesome.”
Additional reporting by Brian Corey
Photos by Brian Corey