If you see Nicole Andres in Nicole’s Bar on Legion Way in Olympia, you will probably remember that you have seen her working at other local establishments over the years. But now, the longtime area bartender owns her own hip bar in the bustling historic downtown Olympia.

And if you are one of the few who haven’t seen her around town, you can watch Andres and her staff when Nicole’s Bar is featured in an episode of “America’s Best Restaurants” that will air online in August. “It was fun,” Andres says of the filming. “They tried our famous meatloaf sliders and signature cocktails.”

Nicole’s Bar on Legion Way is a New Chapter in the Olympia Downtown Historic District’s Rich Story

The National Register of Historic Places says the Olympia Downtown Historic District offers a unique urban setting. “No other community in Washington is comparable to this downtown area which offers two types of waterfront access (salt and fresh water), buildings reflecting many architectural styles and eras, and important associations with territorial and state capitol history reflected in its building and sites,” the National Register explains.

Nicole’s Bar is in that district at 109 Legion Way SW between Sylvester Park and Columbia Street, and within walking distance to both Capitol Lake and Budd Inlet on Puget Sound. The National Register notes that, “These buildings along Legion Way to Columbia appear to have been designed by architect Joseph Wohleb during the 1950s and 1960s and housed a variety of businesses.” Joseph Wohleb designed many downtown Olympia historic buildings and other important government and commercial structures in Thurston County.

And “variety of businesses” is spot-on. Over the decades, the enterprises where Nicole’s Bar opened have included a bakery, an alterations shop and cafes, to name a few. Andres says she receives seven power bills because the remodeled bar space occupies the location of multiple former small businesses.

And the bar’s opening is now part of downtown’s history as well. Andres says after two decades of bartending, she decided to launch her own business and scheduled the March 2020 opening. “Along the way, I always wanted to open my own bar,” she says. “It’s scary, but you jump in. Then the pandemic hit.” Her fortitude in meeting the shutdown challenges is one of the reasons this local eatery piqued the interest of “America’s Best Restaurants.”

Nicole Andres (pictured), owner of Nicole’s Bar in Olympia, and her staff will be featured in an upcoming episode of ‘America’s Best Restaurants.’ Photo courtesy: Nicole’s Bar

‘America’s Best Restaurants’ Spotlights Nicole’s Bar in Olympia

While typically patrons or restaurants nominate establishments to be featured on “America’s Best Restaurants,” in the case of Nicole’s Bar, the producers reached out to her. “They were pretty persistent,” says Andres. “I thought, ‘Is this a real thing?’ Then we had a one-hour Zoom call.”

“America’s Best Restaurants” travels to different states to highlight local small business restaurants, posting filmed episodes on its website. Andres says they were intrigued by her bar’s 2020 launch during COVID-19 shutdown and her ability to maintain the business following those trying times. Andres says most of the bar’s staff were present during the filming. “I give a shoutout to them,” she says. “Without them, we don’t exist.”

You can sit at the distinctive horseshoe bar at Nicole’s Bar in downtown Olympia while you enjoy signature cocktails and great options on the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

Nicole’s Bar Serves Up Hearty Food, Fun Cocktails, Live Music and Events

You can sit around the distinctive horseshoe bar, in a booth, at a table, or on comfy sofas and cushy chairs when you indulge in the hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner menu items and tasty weekly specials, plus delightful cocktails. Examples of recent specials include Kahlua pork with rice and Hawaiian macaroni salad; a beer, bacon, and cheese sloppy Joe; a pork shoulder gyro; and gumbo. And for fun, pair those with cocktails like “Could You Be Loved” (Empress Elderflower Rose gin, lemon juice, simple syrup muddled with fresh cucumbers and fresh mint) or “Soak Up the Sun” (Maker’s Mark bourbon, triple sec, agave syrup, pineapple juice, lime, and fresh muddled jalapenos).

The bar area has a comfortable space for a band, in front of the wall-length fireplace. Musicians range from rock to country to folk and a variety of other artists. “Live music is kind of coming back around,” Andres says of downtown. “You can bar hop now.”

And Nicole’s Bar gives back to the community. Andres serves on the board of 4 the Love Foundation, her nonprofit helping families in need, and the bar is also used by other nonprofits hosting events. “That’s my biggest passion,” says Andres. “Anytime we can host to give back, I do it.” And if that’s not enough, she also manages the 1889 Prime Steakhouse at 406 5th Avenue SW, located a few blocks from Nicole’s Bar.

Hearty food, signature cocktails, weekly specials and more are ready for you at Nicole’s Bar in the Olympia Downtown Historic District. The restaurant is located a few blocks from Capitol Lake and Budd Inlet. Photo courtesy: Nicole’s Bar

Eat, Drink and Meet at Nicole’s Bar in Historic Downtown Olympia

If you want to eat, drink and meet in Olympia, check out the Nicole’s Bar website and Facebook page for weekly specials and events. And while you are downtown, enjoy a walking tour of the historic district.

Nicole’s Bar
109 Legion Way SW, Olympia

Print Friendly, PDF & Email