The historic Carousel Lounge will be opening its doors to the public this spring. The neighborhood soft opening will be sometime at the end of April, and a grand opening will take place June 9, said owner Paul Berger.
The bar will house three pool tables, four dart boards, a jukebox and a punching bag. Women’s, men’s and mixed teams from Alaska Nugget Dart League will be coming soon to the bar as well.
It has been a long process for Berger to get the bar ready.
In February the Spenard Community Council voted to pass a resolution opposing the Conditional Land Use Permit for the bar, citing issues with parking that were not addressed in Berger’s original plan, including handicap parking, snow storage, tenant parking, rear access to the building, landscaping and grandfather rights for the special land use permit and liquor license.
At the Anchorage Assembly meeting on Feb. 27, Berger requested a special land use permit that would allow him to serve alcohol at the property of the old Carousel Lounge. With concerns brought up by the Spenard Community Council, the Anchorage Assembly decided to move into a working session. At the next vote on March 20, the Anchorage Assembly voted unanimously to approve the special land use permit, allowing Berger to begin the real work at the bar.
Berger had planned on renaming the infamous watering hole, “The Bar on Spenard,” but after hearing responses from the public, he decided to stick with the original name. It helps the signs are still outside.
“The bar is iconic, the pole sign is iconic,” Berger said.
The building was built in 1964 and opened as the Carousel Lounge in 1967 under the management of Steve Cooper.
In 2003 new owners purchased the bar and painted the exterior red with stripes in honor of musician Van Halen. The Carousel Lounge served its last drink May 15, 2016. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the closure was due to the economy and health issues with one of the co-owners.
While the Carousel Lounge is rebuilding itself, other historic bars have struggled to stay afloat in the economic climate. Just down the road, TapRoot shut its doors last year, and the historic Buckaroo Club came up for sale earlier this month. Berger said he’s “irrationally optimistic” despite the climate.
“I think the bar business is changing. And I’m not fully up on millennials, or their habits and this and that…” Berger said. “Each bar is unique. I think there’s a market for this little bar, that’s big enough to support this little bar.”
Berger noted that the eight apartment units he rents above the bar help to carry the building’s cost.
Helping him run the bar is Linda Coffer, who used to live in Spenard and worked at the Carousel Lounge for 12 years before it shut down in 2016.
“I’m excited to bring back the neighborhood bar for everybody. Just getting the Spenard family back together,” Coffer said.
The bar is filled with items nodding to Alaska history, including an old Anchorage telephone booth, wool carpet that was previously used on Princess Cruise’s Alaska rail cars and pictures of old Spenard line the walls.
Berger says he’s looking for people to share old photos from locals that were taken at or around the bar.
The date of the soft opening is to be announced, but Berger said it will be at the end of the month. The grand opening will be June 9. Updates can be found on the bar’s Facebook page.Tags: Alaska, Anchorage, Linda Coffer, Paul Berger, Spenard, The Carousel Lounge, The Spenardian