TNT Diner

Popular Proctor neighborhood bar has a new owner next week. Longtime owners will retire

Terry's Office Tavern is in the Proctor neighborhood in Tacoma.
Terry's Office Tavern is in the Proctor neighborhood in Tacoma. skidd@thenewstribune.com

Spend the afternoon reading a book on the deck.

Finally take care of that crack in the ceiling.

Tour pubs in the British Isles.

Get up sometime way later than 7 a.m.

Those are just a few of the things Lori and Mike Graham intend to begin doing next week after they hand over the keys to Terry’s Office Tavern at 3410 N. Proctor St.

That’s the Tacoma bar they’ve been involved in as owners, employees or patrons since they turned 21 (four decades ago).

The new owners are familiar to lovers of craft beer, neighborhood bars and solid pizza and cheeseburgers. Jeff and Helen Fraychineaud will take the helm. They’re already owners of Parkway Tavern, Hank’s Bar and Pizza (aka Hank’s Corner Bar) and Coles Bar and Grill.

Keeping "The Office" operating as a neighborhood bar was a priority for the Grahams.

“They (Jeff and Helen) get the neighborhood-bar concept. It’s becoming more of a dying breed. You’ve got to keep these things alive,” said Mike Graham.

Instead of selling it to developers who approached them, they opted to turn it over to the Fraychineauds.

Jeff Fraychineaud, who has a penchant for collecting old buildings and keeping or turning them into neighborhood bars, doesn’t plan any significant changes. That extends all the way to the employees. Eight employees — three have been there more than 20 years — will continue working at the 80-seat tavern.

Mike Graham has walked through the doors of the tavern nearly every day at 7 a.m. for more than 25 years. Lori has always been a presence there but has maintained her own accounting career while Mike ran the bar.

He started there as a part-time employee around 1990. At the time, he was working for his parents, Ron and Donna Graham, who purchased the bar in 1983. By 1996, Mike and Lori became the owners.

Before the Grahams, it was Terry Johnson’s bar. He added his name to the business, which at the time was called Office Tavern. A few different owners, dating back to the 1960s, preceded him.

The 1936 building originally was Ryan’s Confectionery and Tavern. It had a sweet shop on one side and tavern with beer on the other.

Lori Graham recalled the lengthy history she and Mike have with the tavern, which was first as patrons. They would hang out there after softball games years before they would come to own it.

The stories run deep.

There was that time when a worker digging near the building found a buried World War II artillery shell that military members had to be called out to retrieve (luckily, the tavern didn’t blow up). There was the story of the customer who, when smoking was allowed indoors, would wheel into the bathroom with his oxygen tank to have a smoke (also, again, luckily nothing blew up).

The Friday clam chowder recipe is from Mike’s mom. The tavern and its customers collected 5,000 coats over six years for local school children. Lori met one of her best friends in the tavern.

“We’ve got the grandparents who come in with their children, and now the children are bringing their kids in,” said Lori. “It’s neat. We’ve made some lifelong friends out of there. It’s very bittersweet, but it’s a good thing.”

What’s Mike going to do his first week of retirement?

“I’m taking Lori to breakfast,” he said.

Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270, @tntdiner

Terry’s Office Tavern

Where: 3410 N. Proctor St., Tacoma

Info: 253-752-6262, terrysofficetavern.com

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