At this point, any establishment wishing to obtain a full spirits license had to drop the "tavern" from its name and exterior signage. Belltown's Two Bell's Tavern, for example. became the Two Bells Bar & Grill. So when a new ownership group obtained Queen Anne's Streamline Tavern and applied for a full spirits license, they feared they'd have to resort to extreme measures--like appealing to the Landmarks Board--to hang on to its unique Mercer St. sign (pictured).
Turns out their fears are unfounded.
A couple years ago, the Liquor Board quietly adopted a laissez faire attitude toward tavern nomenclature, something that was presumably lost on the likes of the Tug Tavern when it started serving hard booze and switched its name to the Tug Inn. (Tug Tavern, much like Two Bells Tavern, rolls off the tongue a ton nicer than its successor, and existed for a long enough period of time to where no one really refers to it by the new name anyway.)
"The agency decided in 2007 that there was no public safety protection involved in removing the word 'tavern' if the business became a spirits/beer/wine restaurant," explains Washington State Liquor Board Communications Director Brian Smith. "Rather, it is a business decision by the business owner."
Two Bells manager Meredith Storm essentially shrugged over the phone when told of what might have been had the bar aspired to serve hard hooch after, rather than before, the 2007 rule relaxation. "The old-timers still know us as Two Bells Tavern," says Storm. "We brought the neon signs [with "Tavern" on them] inside, and our front sign is Two Bells Bar & Grill. For now we're gonna keep it, because that's how the newbies know us."