At first glance, it doesn’t look a typical college hangout — there are bright lights, a few bar stools and tables, no music, a random assortment of University of Idaho memorabilia, a shuffle board and a couple TVs.
The Corner Club in downtown Moscow is more than a college hangout or sports bar, and it appeals to a varied crowd.
“It is most people’s unofficial home for the time they spend here,” Club owner Marc Trivelpiece said. “It doesn’t really have any rules or boundaries as far as who comes. We get farmers in here at 10 a.m., and then college kids. And of course when alumni come back to town, they want to go see … the Corner Club.”
The Corner Club was recently ranked number five among the top 20 best college bars on the website bestcollegesonline.com.
UI senior Bailey Merwin said the Corner Club is by far her favorite bar in town.
“They don’t try to be anything they’re not,” she said. “It’s a place to come out and meet people and drink with your friends, and that’s all it needs to be.”
Merwin said she also appreciates the Club’s quality, yet affordable beverages.
Specials unique to the Club include ladies night, which features half-price well drinks, and peanut night, in which free peanuts are served and attendees can throw the shells on the floor. Trivelpiece said the Corner Club is also the home of the tub, and is the only bar in town with a shuffleboard league. The winning team gets a free bar tab and T-shirts.
Corner Club bartender Billy Meyers said the Club is also deeply engrained in sports history.
“We have some of the premier Idaho sports memorabilia in here that exists — not even just for the town of Moscow,” Meyers said.
And then there’s the story of Gus Johnson.
Johnson played basketball for Idaho in 1963 and had a reputation for being one of the first “high-flyers” in the game and one of the “pioneers of the dunk,” according to UI athletics.
Trivelpiece said then-owner Hermie Goetz asked Johnson to show customers his vertical. Starting from a standing position near the bar, Johnson jumped up and touched a spot on a beam 11 feet 6 inches above the floor. A nail marked the spot, and Goetz said anybody who could reach it again would drink for free.
Trivelpiece said it wasn’t until 1986 that College of Southern Idaho basketball player Joey Johnson, the younger brother of NBA star Dennis Johnson, grabbed and bent the nail on his third try.
The Club has since been renovated, but a black brick above the door now commemorates the spot.
UI All-American John Yarno who went on to play in the NFL and San Francisco 49er Mike Iupati also frequented the Club during their time at UI, Trivelpiece said.
The Club once served horses, too.
“There’s this old story of a guy who used to ride his horse right into the bar, order a beer for himself and his horse, and ride home,” Trivelpiece said.
Trivelpiece said what is now the Corner Club was initially Moscow Brewery in 1983. Between then and 1948, it was converted into a restaurant, church and a mission.
Goetz and his partner Neil Lynd bought the building in 1948 and turned it into the Corner Club.
Trivelpiece and his wife Stacey are the third set of owners. Trivelpiece said he worked at the Club from 1996-99 and bought it in 2007.
Meyers said what makes the Corner Club special is its ability to transcend social norms.
“There are locals who have been coming here for 30 plus years, that come every day,” he said. “But then you have students that come here between one time a week to every day, too. Sometimes they all know each other, or they might form friendships, and that’s really cool.”
Britt Kiser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org