Terry and Todd Robinett, owners of the Merry Time Bar & Grill, are acquiring the Labor Temple Diner & Bar in Astoria from David and Christina Warner. The deal is expected to close early next month.
The Robinetts plan to keep the diner menu and vibe of the Labor Temple largely the same, while expanding the events in the back bar. The business is in space leased from the Astoria Labor Temple Association, owners of the 1924 union hall.
“The Labor Temple has a significant place in Astoria’s history,” the Robinetts said in a news release. “We’re going to honor that. We are also putting a lot of energy into making it a happening night spot again. Look for rock shows, burlesque, all kinds of things. We think the success of the Merry Time Bar should count for something, and hope that folks trust us with this local icon.”
The couple moved to Astoria in 2014 and took over the Merry Time Bar & Grill from Fred and Chrissy Van Horn. They don’t want the sports bar to compete with the Labor Temple, Terry Robinett said.
Before moving to Portland, she managed the Rialto Poolroom Bar & Cafe, a 99-year-old pool and betting venue in Portland. She helped open the Jack London Bar in the basement of the pool hall, producing shows and booking events.
The couple plans to install new audio and lighting in the Labor Temple bar’s stage area, along with a new jukebox, pinball and other minor cosmetic changes. A wide variety of events have been scheduled starting next month, including Friday dance parties, monthly comedy nights and burlesque shows, live-band karaoke and concerts.
The Warners own the Portway Tavern on Marine Drive and have had the Labor Temple since taking over from Phyllis Ham and Bob Heilman in 2007. They also operate a rental property company and wanted to simplify, Christina Warner said.
“It’s been a fun experience … trying at times,” she said of operating the Labor Temple. “We’re happy that they’ve said they want to keep the same concept, and have the time and desire to run with it.”
The Warner’s last day of ownership will be New Year’s Day. “We’ll stop serving at 1 a.m.” Monday, Christina Warner said.
The cafe and bar will temporarily close, with the Robinetts intending to reopen Jan. 12.