Happiest Hour 

Marvin's Bar

Claim to fame: Pick one. Marvin's began gathering barflies in 1937, when Marvin Gratiot stacked the log walls himself. John and Ann LaFlesch bought the place in the late 1940s and started hosting stock car races on a dirt track out back. The old gas pumps outside used to work, says bartender Cyn Karns. Willie Nelson even played a concert at Marvin's once, or so the story goes.

What you're drinking: Taster's choice, but the regulars usually go for domestic beers at $2.75. Which brand varies depending on the day of the week.

What you're eating: The burgers. Karns says they're a longstanding Missoula legend.

Who you're drinking with: "It's a working man's bar," says Karns, casting her eyes over a few mid-afternoon drinkers. Standard dress consists of jeans, thick-weave button shirts and caps. Adam Kurtz has been hitting Marvin's on his way home from work for five or six years. It's convenient, with a good atmosphere. "Just an old, dingy bar," he says.


Atmosphere: Rustic with a Las Vegas fringe. The wagon wheels hanging from the ceiling are lined with neon tubes. Custom panties hang behind the bar next to old hand-colored photos of hunters and their hounds. A piano collects dust in the corner by the fireplace, its base still peppered with shotgun pellets from a bungled robbery more than 40 years ago. "The bartender came running around with his gun," Karns says. "Blew the guy's kneecaps right off."

Happy hour: A foreign concept around here.

How to find it: 7995 U.S. Highway 10, at the turnoff to the old Smurfit-Stone mill.

Happiest Hour is a new column that celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, e-mail editor@missoulanews.com.

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