Customers loot historic Tacoma tavern on closing night

TACOMA, Wash. -- The owner of a fabled Tacoma tavern is in tears after the 75-year-old establishment closed for good.

But Peggy Warren's tears aren't because Flying Boots closed on Saturday. Instead, she's upset over the looting that took place in bar's final hours.

Warren said customers drinking at the much-loved tavern's final night decided they wanted to take more than just memories with them.

"There was a neon light right there. It was a Rainier light with a Space Needle on it," said bartender Tami Kenan. "And we had a James Dean and Elvis picture up there."

Like Kenan, Warren can hardly believe how much memorabilia was taken from the tavern Saturday night.

"It's just disheartening to think that people would do this," Warren said.

She said it was tough enough making the decision to close the Lincoln District bar, and having her customers raid the place made the emotional night even worse.

"Even the pool light over the pool table, which was a large Budweiser pool light, they removed that," she said.

About 50 people were jammed into the place Saturday night, and staff members didn't notice the looting until someone tried to walk away with the neon "Spur Room" sign.

"He had it unplugged, and I came out and was like, 'Really?'" Kenan said.

That's when they noticed someone had already made off with the 75-year-old photo of the original Flying Boots, which had been hanging on the wall.

Many longtime customers are just as upset about the looting.

"I hope they feel good looking at it at their house, or wherever it happens to be, and remembering that they ripped it off," said Dick Zierman.

Warren said the tavern has given so many people great memories over the years, and it's a shame it had to end this way.

"I just find it really disheartening," she said. "And just bring it back. I'm not going to do anything. Just bring the things back."

The tavern does have security cameras, but they were somehow turned away from the action on Saturday. However, there was a birthday party on the same night, and Warren hopes photos from that party might show thieves in the background.