The Bub Crawlers Guide to
Montana's Small Taverns
Article by Doug Ardary
Marvin's Tavern is at 7995 Highway 10, approximately seven miles west of Missoula. The locals refer to the junction in the road as The Y, but I find It easier to tell people who are unfamiliar with the area that the tavern is at the southwest corner of the interchange where highway 200/93 and Interstate 90 cross (exit 96 off Interstate 90).
The structure was built with lodge pole pine logs, so both the Interior and exterior have a rustic appearance An L-shaped wooden bar and an antique wooden back bar reside in the middle portion of the building. A stone fireplace rises from the floor in the southwest corner of the bar room, and an antique piano stands against the east wall. The piano still gets plenty of use by a few of the regular customers.
Marvin's was named after the man who built the place. At one time, it was the only commercial building between The Y and Missoula The business started out as a gas station, grocery store, and cafe. Bootleg booze was sold out of the store during the prohibition years, and the alcohol sales were so good that the store and gas station became a licensed tavern when prohibition ended.
Johnny La Flesch bought Marvin's in 1949. Johnny spent the next forty-six years behind the bar while his wife spent that time at the grill frying some of the best cheeseburgers ever made Johnny's son. KC. took over the business in the fall of l994.
Marvin's has always been a working class bar where local residences gather to drink and socialize. KC grew up around the bar, and he works hard to ensure the friendly atmosphere and home town environment continue on. The bar room today looks much the same as it did when Johnny LaFlesch bought the business in 1949. Even the cheeseburgers haven't changed since the first one was served up nearly fifty years ago.
The wooden tables and booths are authentic and the bathroom, old photographs. Snowshoes, paintings and a bearskin rug hang from the walls, and the people are as friendly as you will find anywhere. It you miss the way things were in the good old days, take a drive to Marvin's at the Y west of Missoula, you'll be glad you made the trip
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