Homer's Salty Dawg Saloon stays open for winter

Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2008

HOMER - One of Alaska's most famous saloons will break a 25-year habit and stay open past the tourist season.

The Salty Dawg Saloon on the Homer Spit, a 5-mile finger of gravel jutting into Kachemak Bay, will keep its doors open to give residents and winter visitors another entertainment option.

In recent years, the Salty Dawg, which has a distinctive tower that looks like a lighthouse, would close Oct. 31 and reopen March 1. A big Halloween send-off would be followed by boarded up windows, protecting the structure from inhospitable winter winds.

"It must have been in the 1980s when we were last open for winter," said owner John Warren. "The girls wanted to stay open, and I'm doing some work anyway. I'm redoing the tower on the inside and outside, so I'll be around here, doing preventive maintenance."

In the summer, the historic bar gets so much traffic, Homer people can't always find a seat. Winter is a chance to "slow down," watch Monday night football and hear tales about close calls at sea, said manager Hollyn Smith.

"People have great stories. It's a chance to tell sea stories and there are so many great ones about the Dawg," Smith said. "Usually we wait until spring, but I think it would be great to hear them in the winter."

A log cabin portion of the bar is known as the oldest structure from the original Homer Spit settlement. It was built in 1898, with an adjoining structure built about 1909.

The buildings have served as a post office, grocery store and schoolhouse.

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