Elbow Room closed its doors

“Deadliest Catch” fans came to know this hot spot in Unalaska, AK, as the bar where the “Deadliest Catch” skippers gathered around a round table (season 3)  and placed the now famous bet as to who would bring in the first 100,000 pounds of crab in the least number of pots.  It was called Latitudes.  But long before that it was the infamous Elbow Room, a place that was known from coast to coast as the rowdiest bar in the U.S.  There’s plenty of stories about it, it was written about in novels, it has it’s own website, and I imagine it will be talked about for several generations.  I’ve never been there, but I wonder how many fishermen feel like they’ve lost an old friend.  Listen to this audio file as Charles Homans bids farewell to the famous watering hole…

On Sunday, residents of Unalaska/Dutch Harbor bid farewell to one of the most notorious drinking establishments in modern Alaskan history. It used to be called the Elbow Room, a bar that was synonymous with the high-rolling, often violent culture of Bering Sea crab fishing in the late 70s and early 80s. It was renamed Latitudes in its final years, and remained a local institution until it closed once and for all this weekend. KIAL’s Charles Homans stopped by for the bar’s last hurrah on Saturday night, and filed this story.


Patrons pack the dance floor at Latitudes one last time on Saturday, November 3. The bar closed its doors once and for all the following day. Photo courtesy of Charles Homans/KIAL News

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35 Responses to Elbow Room closed its doors

  1. alaskasteve says:

    Latitudes was just a block or two down the street . . . I hardly ever went there but I liked the idea that it was there and I’m sorry it closed. The last night was a fun time . . . .

  2. Jen says:

    I was sad to hear this. I actually feature that bar in the sequel to my book. Too bad it’s not there anymore.
    I’ll miss the stories.

  3. Cris says:

    If I remember correctly, I think Sig Hansen mentioned he lost his ” innocence ” at that bar during one of the After The Catch shows. Does anyone else remember that? I wonder how many others went through such lifetime milestones in there? I can’t wait to read how Jen incorporates it in her sequel ! So sorry to hear it is gone!!!

  4. Jen says:

    Oh nothing like Sig’s story. But it isn’t finished yet. Want something involving a bar stool Cris? LOL.

  5. Daily Facts says:

    Guess what? Your blog is amazing! I can’t remember when was the last time i’ve overcome such a good blog that almost all articles/posts were interesting and wouldn’t regret spending my time reading it. I hope you will keep up the great work you are doing here and i can enjoy my everyday read at your blog.

  6. connie says:

    I,m sorry to hear it closed I would have loved to have gone there someday. Steve are they thinking of opening up another tavern/bar in it’s place in the future.

  7. Amy says:

    Hey, I got kicked out of that bar! Probably in 1994 or around there. It had tamed quite a bit by then and one of the Norwegians tried to grab a waitress. Unusual behavior for a fisherman, don’t you think?!

  8. jim gropper says:

    if the building of the old elbowroom is still there
    why not make a musiem out of it and use the proceeds for the people there that need help except
    for three years in the early fifties i was raised in
    se alasks even then there where people that needed
    help of some sort lots of tourest would like to see
    it as it was i would bet a lot of them would pay $5.00
    to see it

  9. John says:

    Dam, back in the day you either the Unisea Inn or the Elbow Room to drink at. And, if you were on the Dutch side of the island you had to take a water taxi across to Unalaska or jump in a skiff; then you had to worry about falling into the water getting in or out of the skiff. Dutch Harbor will never be the same.

    Unalaska school class of 79-80

  10. Ralph McLain says:

    I was a bartender in Tommy’s ElbowRoom in Fairbanks, in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I believe during a native convention was the reason but a man named Pete. A very nice talkable native man named Pete came to me with a trash bag full of ElbowRoom t shirts and Sweatshirts. He said that is the view from the window. I had to leave AK in 93 due to health but wore that sweatshirt until it fell apart. Can’t afford another one because I am disabled but always wondered what happened to good old Pete. I never got to visit him there. If anyone knows the man who delivered the goodies to the ElbowRoom (Pete) tell him Ralph the bartender says hello and hello to all my old Alaskan friends. I miss the people most!!

  11. Becky Dunbar says:

    I worked up in Dutch Harbor in 1979/80. We spent many a night in the elbow room. It’s kind of sad to think an era has come and gone.

  12. Becky "Donna" Dunbar says:

    Hey, if anyone knows any of the crew of the Kona in 79-80, I’d love to hear from them. Pokey? Still around? Email web@heavensfield.com

  13. Jackson Barr says:

    Has anyone investigated the new owners and their purpose for closing the bar down completely? It doesn’t seem like a kind thing to do.

  14. Tom Becker says:

    Sad to hear the Elbow Room closed. I would have loved to visited it again. I spent 2 nights there in the summer of 1979. Never forget that we went in during daylight 6pm and closed the place about 4 am and still daylight. I was on the Artic Producer processing ship and left my nickname in 4ft yellow letters on a barrack roof top near the fuel dock. So long to an era.

  15. Mary says:

    Wow. Surprised I found this site. Larry, if you see this,
    gimme a call or have someone send an email :-) I am a musician, and I played in the Elbow many times before 2000, when I came home to stay. Worked in the Unisea starting in 90, as well. My husband was a fisheries biologist, whom I ‘went out’ with for the first time to the Elbow. Someone on this list mentioned ‘Pete': Maybe that was Larry’s friend Pete who worked with him on the Peggy Rose (and who had his picture on the cover of National Geographic as a young Aleut child). Anyway, times have certainly changed! I’m really surprised it’s closed…..

  16. alaskasteve says:

    The Elbow Room / Latitudes is still sitting empty. Unisea bought the liquor license, just to eliminate the competition, no word of anyone opening another bar. The Unisea just finished up a major remodel of the Sports bar on Tuesday and it looks great . . .

  17. Steve says:

    I am a huge fan of deadliest catch. I thought scenes from the elbow room,latitudes, were awesome. Would have loved to go there sometime. Oh well. Would still love to visit Dutch Harbor. Seems to me it houses the hardest working people anywhere. The bar looked like my kind of place!!. Anyway to still by shirts from there.

  18. Tom Moran says:

    Im so sad to hear that the Elbow room has closed and the liscence been used as a leaver, I had a very memeroble few days in dutch and espically in the elbow room after sailing from Prince Rupert en rute to Russia,as having a full crew of irish men and all with musical instruments we had a good thurst on arrival and was duly quinshed in the elbow room,we had four good days of rest and relaxation !!!!!!! We left with a sad heart and a long way to to sail back to Ireland via the north east passage.

  19. Tony L. says:

    I worked on the Northern Glacier out of Dutch in the late 80’s. I was lucky enough to get to spend a few nights here and there at the Elbow Room when we went in to offload our catch. I thought it was a fun place to be, and when you walked in it was pretty much recognized whether you belonged there or not. If you didn’t, you didn’t stay around for long.. I have fond memories of buying cold ones at ER for my friends when it was colder outside..

  20. Jeanette says:

    I lived in Dutch Harbor in 2001, I worked for the Qawalingin Tribal office. Me and my 13 year old at the time daughter ate Thanksgiving dinner with Larry and Pete and Helen and the others that year. I loved the Elbow room. Made many good friends there. Bobby Storres was one of them. I miss him. Any of yall knew him? He passed away6 or 7 years ago:(

  21. Jim Jahoda says:

    I spent two early eighties seasons in Dutch and hung around the Elbow room pretty often. I remember the big pack of dogs hanging around the door waiting for their people. I worked for East Point and had as many friends among the dog pack as I did in the packing plant. My first night there I remember a woman walking up to me and holding out her hand. It took me a moment to figure out she was trying to reach into my pants. One day I was over there for lunch and there was allot of talk about a Russian boat in town. I walked over and made friends and got roaring drunk. I had a hard time explaining myself to the Russians.. “I was from Minnesota, I was an Art student there but I was second assistant on that big boat across the harbor. (MV Mr.B)” I thought I was in a little trouble as I was supposed to work later. No worries, My skipper Dave Strand was pretty happy I had been there. Want friends and adventure? Head to the Elbow Room.

  22. Heather (Fulton) Hamilton says:

    I was in Dutch during the early eighties aboard Storm Petrel a Marco 123 which my Dad, George Fulton owned and ran. I had just graduated high school and turned 16 when I arrived after being snowed in in Cold Bay with 50 rowdy drunks for 2 days. When I got to Dutch my Dad was out in Adak and I was pretty much left to fend for myself for a few days until he got back. I made freinds with Justina Stepetin, a really funny aleut girl and was introduced to the craziness of the Elbow Room. I fished for a total of five years and like so many, had my share of adventures, survival stories and life on the edge. When I look back now, and read through my Dad’s stories in the Fisherman News, I realize just one thing: if not for the prayers of those who love me or care about me, I wouldn’t be here.

  23. cindy bainter says:

    i was in dutch harbor in 1976 it was wild i remember the elbowroom ,well through a drunken haze… it was great i worked on the docks unloading king crab , i bunked on the barge for a while then moved to the bunk house with my husband. its too bad it closed its doors i had the time of my life there i even got hired on as cook on a boat but turned up pregnant with my son so went back state side and sadly never went back to alaska but it was very cool to be there

  24. Tumbleweed says:

    Sad to hear The Elbow Room closed. I spent lots of nights there during the 90’s while working on The Northern Jaeger. Dutch must be changing I hear they have a paved street there now!

  25. Greg McClure says:

    I can’t believe I found this site. I was in the U.S. Coast Guard
    on a buoy tender (USCGC Balsam) stationed in Adak. Our second home
    was Dutch Harbor. I was a radio operator; and radio operators on buoy tenders are rare; but because Adak was so close to Russia,
    there were many encrypted messages and security clearances that it was necessary. I have many fond memories of the Elbow Room and many
    images I wish I could upload; not only of the Elbow Room but of the
    Dutch Harbor, itself. This was around 1972. I remember the prettiest girl there was Vicki Shapsnikoff. She would dance with me every once-in-a-while and every guy in there thought he would be the one to see her home. I also met a sweet girl on the Northgate, a crab processing ship. Those were the days. Anyone want to e-mail me it is gregmccl@bellsouth.net Hope to hear from someone soon

  26. Greg McClure says:

    A follow up to gregmccl@bellsouth.net This is Greg again please notify me of update comments

  27. sandra gillman says:

    Does anyone remember Sid Potts from back when the Elbowroom was wild like Sid.

  28. Paula says:

    In the summer of 1976, I believe I worked as a cocktail waitress at Tommy’s. But I can’t even remember the name of the family that owned the place back then. It was the 70’s, most of which is a blurr for me now…. My name was Paula Holland then and I had lots of fun working there.

  29. Sheryl Crowe says:

    Jim, I spent a couple seasons on the Mr B also in the mid 80’s and lot of time in the elbow room sad to hear she is gone, I do like the idea that some one said make it a musum man there are some tales to be told and memories scribed into ever wall and table including my name, I am attempting to find out if the Mr B is still running, and if so who owns her these days, got a son ready to ship out LOL it was a good solid ship then figure she still is… if anyone knows please contact me, Sheryl.Crowe@gmail.com or on facebook just search for my email address, back then it was sheryl Nelson single and having a great time, worked hard played hard and would not change a single thing, it was probably one of the best times of my life!!

  30. Edward says:

    Yup I was there for the party when they auction off the bar I left with two buckets fore beer leavers and a whole lot of memories good times

  31. lisa rambo says:

    I was wondering if there was a way that I could get a copy of a picture that was taken in the elbow room of two freinds of mine and Sig, the captain of the wizard(I do believe that was the name). I am a girlfreind of the man(Mr.Dan Akers) and the other person in the picture was his girl at the time this picture was taken(Tyna Stymp), I was a jeoulos girlfreind and destroyed that picture memory for them and Iam trying to make it rite, please tell me there is a way to make a copy of this picture,because I need to replace it. I cut this picture up in to many pieces to be salvaged.

  32. Sandy Stingl says:

    So glad I found this sight to reminisce a bit about Dutch Harbor and the Elbow Room. I went up to Dutch Harbor with college friends back in the summer of 1979 to make money for tuition. We worked for Pan Alaska and lived on the barge. Had too much fun and got addicted to making good money, so we went back for king crab season and a few more seasons. After a few year years I ended up working on a processing ship for Pan Alaska, but can’t remember its name right now.
    We could never afford the Unisea, so hung out in the elbow room. Still when I hear a bell ring, I think someone is buying a round. Wish I could remember more about being in the Elbow Room, but being a girl up there, I never had to buy a drink, and they always kept coming.
    I remember the Storm Petrel, Mr B, the water taxi to UnAlaska before the bridge was built and more,
    Thanks for the memories!

  33. TJ says:

    I ‘ve been there many times before they closed there doors for good.
    i will really miss the times i had in there.

  34. kelly myers says:

    (1991- Early Dawn) my first time there was the year the KP-22 got shut down. Went to the Elbow-Room, got in a fight, got kicked out by huge man at the door, snuck back in and removed by the most patient police officer, lost 2 fake ID’s and taken to my boat,( was only 20) and later pulled over right in front of the Elbow-Room, by the same most patient officer, 2nd and last ride to the boat…blah blah good times!!! I’m gonna go break some glass right now in honor of the no glass policy… last time I was there was to have a drink for a lost brother (RIP Kyle Smith 94), Peace Brother ! I did later meet another very patient police officer that same nite, woke-up the next morning w/ owner of boat and manager of Uni-Sea, TV was smashed over my head, very nice desk in the pond. blah blah….

  35. Edward says:

    have two ice bucket with name on them plus Fore beer pull leavers,( Alaska Ail, moos Ail, Ect) for sale for right price

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