In pre-pandemic times, the Brickyard Pub in Federal Way was the go-to watering hole for tomfoolery, karaoke nights and cheering on your favorite football team every weekend.
While the crowds nowadays are smaller due to state safety guidelines, the bar, located at 28845 Military Road South, has remained a beloved gem in the community and was recently voted the best Bar/Nightclub in Federal Way.
Owned by Karen Merkt, the bar moved in 2001 to its current location set back from the main roadway in a strip mall, but it has been a staple in Federal Way for decades.
The neighborhood bar sees a flow of various customers as the day goes on, said longtime manager Celeste Locke. Many retired folks enjoy the bar earlier in the day. Then comes the after-work crowd to blow off some steam, followed by the dinner rush crowd, and finally, younger residents trickle in to get their night started. Some customers even make the drive from cities such as Bothell to enjoy the good times and good food.
“I love the people,” Locke said. “I’ve seen the same people that are in my day crowd now that are retired who were, 20 years ago, in the working or night crowd. You get to know them all, and they’re just real nice people.”
During the pandemic, the 21-and-over bar made the decision to close entirely without offering to-go dining options, a business move that prevented them from having to lay off any of the 13-member staff.
Now, businesses are slowly easing back to regular operations, and the Brickyard Pub can return to serving up customers’ favorite large-portion dishes, such as the prime rib and chicken fried steak.
Before the pandemic, the bar frequently hosted special events, such as Halloween parties or Luau-themed nights. A photo wall in the bar displays the memories of smiling customers, outlandish costumes and picture-perfect dance floor moments.
The Brickyard Pub prides itself on maintaining a respectful, welcoming crowd.
“It’s a friendly place, a nice place to get away from the craziness of the world,” Locke said.
Locke said she’s enjoyed working with the owner and the ever-changing clientele for more than 25 years. The Best of Federal Way award, voted by residents, is a sign of their support despite the uncertainty of the last year, she said.
“It makes me really happy,” Locke said. “I know there’s a lot of bars in Federal Way, but it’s just a really good feeling to know that when you work really hard that people appreciate it.”
Noting her appreciation, Locke thanked both the customers and the staff members because “we wouldn’t have this place without them. It takes all of them to be able to do this.”