Historic Ketchikan bar closes

Posted: Friday, March 05, 2004

KETCHIKAN - The stools at the Alaska Bar downtown are vacant but the faint smell of cigarettes and beer lingers inside.

After 20 years in the bar business, owner Mellanie Isner locked the front door for the last time Thursday.

"It was home for so many people," she said. "We did the weddings, we did the wakes, we did the birthday parties. We celebrated some divorces. Any manner of occasion. Fourth of July was a big one."

Isner signed the paperwork selling the building to Gary Jethani of Spectrum Fine Jewelry on Thursday. The bar had been doing well. Isner said she simply wanted to retire.

"I'd owned the bar for 20 years," she said. "It was a tough decision, and I'd been mulling it over for the last couple of years."

The Alaska was one of the oldest bars in town, on a list with the Pioneer Bar and the Foc'sle. "We're all gone, all three of us," Isner said.

The bar business has changed in Ketchikan over the years, Isner said. "I'm glad I was around to see the heyday of the Fourth of July when the loggers came to town," she said. "It's very different now. There's not a bar or business in town that doesn't look forward to the tourists. You just can't find a logger anymore, and there are very few fishermen."

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