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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

July 25, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Mercer Island’s ‘Rowy’ toasts 100th

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Sketched July 18, 2014

Dorothy Reeck, owner of the The Roanoke Inn tavern on Mercer Island, gets asked the same question over and over: How long has this place been here? This month, the answer is a nice round number: 100 years.

The “Rowy” opened in 1914 as a watering hole for early “before-the-bridges” settlers who built cabins along the water and hunted for deer. Stories of gamblers, dancing girls and bootleggers add color to its past.

The business was owned by the family of Reeck’s late husband, Hal, for decades, and when she took over after he passed away in the ’90s, she had some apprehension — “I have never drank a beer in my life,” she said. The regulars warned her not to change anything: “Don’t Bellevue-ize it.” And she hasn’t.

These days, she relies on her new general manager, Ian Highet, 29, to run the place. She said I should sketch him, because he’s the fresh face of this century-old institution.

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Comments | More in Food and restaurants, History | Topics: Mercer Island

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