Donna Morey wears a button behind the bar at the Buckaroo Tavern that says, “I am the Buckaroo.” And she’s not kidding. For the last 26 years, Morey has owned, lived and breathed the Buckaroo. Now, the 72-year-old business is just six weeks away from closing its doors.
“It’s an institution,” Morey tells us. “You’re not talking about a little old tavern that’s shutting down for some willy-nilly reason.” Morey tells us that the lease isn’t being renewed, a topic that she doesn’t want to discuss. A new restaurant called Nils-Sila Pub is expected to open here.
Since the news spread that the Buck was closing, Morey has heard from many people. “These people really adore this place. They really, really do,” she says. Signs have popped up on poles around Fremont urging neighbors to call the local media to “Save the Buck!” There’s even a Facebook effort to save the old tavern. Marty Corey writes on the Facebook site:
I spent thousands of hours both at and behind the bar at The Buck, and it was truly like a living room for Fremont. We celebrated births, marriages, deaths, the Sonics, or even just an exceptionally beautiful day. Before Fremont became so terminally hip that it had to declare itself, “The Center Of The Universe” (we already knew it was), there was The Buck.
While the effort to save the Buck on Fremont Ave. may not work this time, a new generation is stepping up to continue the legacy. Morey’s grandson is looking for a new space in the neighborhood with the hope of reopening the tavern later this year. “We’ve had hundreds of offers of volunteers to help us get all this stuff moved and accomplished and established in a new place,” Morey says, explaining that she plans to take everything that’s not nailed down, even the trademark neon sign. But she adds, “There’s no way you can take that time to another place.”
“She has got a life of her own,” she said. “She’s kind of aging on now and she’s getting up there in years, but she still had a lot of love and a lot of grace left inside of her.”
Morey said the Buck will celebrate one last time — for an entire week leading up to its final day on September 17th. And everyone’s invited.