One of Alaska's oldest bars holds final last call

Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2003

KODIAK (AP) After nearly half a century, the Breakers Bar had its final last call Wednesday night. Owner Ruth Brechan and her family have decided to call it quits to the liquor business.

The bar is one of the oldest in Kodiak and in the state. Its liquor license is No. 173.

Brechan and her husband Fred, who has since passed away, started Breakers in Nome in the 1940s. In the mid-1950s they moved to Kodiak and brought the bar with them. It has survived the ups and downs of Kodiak over the many years; even after it was destroyed in the 1964 tidal wave, Brechan rebuilt it and it survived.

I lay awake last night thinking about it. It's hard to take a tradition away from Kodiak,'' said Mike Martin, grandson of 86-year-old Brechan, who now runs the family company with his grandmother. Grandma is sad about it too. But in the end, she is a business woman and knows it is the right thing.''

The business just isn't what it used to be.

Back in the days when millions of pounds of crab were being delivered to Kodiak and the fleet was rolling in money from salmon, fishermen would head to the bars and spread their wealth. The bell would ring, money would pour in, and the bar business was lucrative.

Those were the cowboy days of Kodiak,'' said self-proclaimed old-timer Coyote'' Bowers who has spent a lot of time at Breakers sitting around the bar and reminiscing about the heyday of Kodiak. Those were the wild times when everything was rough and tumble.''

Today, Kodiak is a different place, more family oriented and stable, albeit with less cash flow from the fisheries.

Look at all the churches Kodiak has now. Heck, there are five churches on my street right now. I feel bad bringing home a case of beer,'' said one Kodiak resident.

The liquor laws have also changed, lowering blood-alcohol levels for legal driving and putting more responsibility on the bars, making it harder to run a responsible business.

Despite the changes over the years, Breakers remained a favorite among old fishermen, such as Bowers. It was a place they could go and remember the old days.

The last 33 years of my life I've spent here. It is quite sad. It marks the end of an era,'' he said.

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