The Cabin Tavern

“I was basically buying myself a job, said Cabin Tavern owner John Wirts, recalling when he bought the bar about 20 years ago. Wirts, who previously worked at Boeing but left in order to take on something different, said he was looking all over Washington. “This space was available and I liked the little town of Bellingham.”
Cabin Tavern has changed over the years, according to Wirts. “When I bought this place it was a dart bar that catered to the working class,” he said. “About 32 teams played throughout the week, which was great but a lot of the time they were really competitive so they would only order ice water and soda.” During that time, Wirts catered towards an older crowd that would generally come for a beer after work. “I didn’t have the college crowd coming in,” he said. “I had to evolve with everything else.”
In order to stay in business, Wirts removed the dart boards and replaced them with more seating and a pool table. Live music started in the form of karaoke and an occasional open mic night. “We didn’t start booking shows regularly until [Audra Robson] started working here,” Wirts said. “She took action and, thanks to her connections in the music community, we’ll have live music more often.”
Wirts leaves the job of booking bands to Robson. “She’s the queen of booking. I do what I can but she does 99 percent of the booking,” he said. “I’m 44 years old, I don’t know what’s hip. But she knows good, local music.”
The Cabin Tavern regularly has shows on Friday and Saturday nights. “My son was here last night,” Wirts said, smiling. “I think it’s really cool.”
The newer, younger crowd seem to frequent the venue more recently thanks to the music they offer. “It’s been a great transition,” Wirts said. “I’ve been excited to see the interest from the music scene and to be part of that community.”
The bar is open to anyone looking to perform. “Even if I’m not personally into a certain type of music, I’d be happy to have them play here,” he said. “Chances are somebody is interested in that type of music.”
Wirts also finds value in the young start-ups from Western Washington University. “We might get some guys that play together for a short time before disassembling or graduating,” he added. “If they get to play here, they get their moment to play for a crowd.”
The Cabin Tavern is located at 307 W. Holly Street. For more information, call 733-9685, e-mail, or follow them on Facebook.