Bob's Java Jive

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2102 S. Tacoma Way
Tacoma,WA 98409-7515
(253) 475-9843

Beer and Wine Only, Live Music, Outdoor Dining
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Weekly Volcano Review Reviewed by: Volcano Staff

Everyone knows little tidbits of Java Jive history - the chimps "Java" and "Jive" living in the Jungle room, the rumor that D.B. Cooper was last seen at the bar before his daring jump, showing up in almost every movie filmed anywhere near Tacoma (Three Fugitives, I Love You To Death, Ten Things I Hate About You, Say Anything). Even the History Channel's Hit the Road filmed an episode with a long section on the Jive's history. There's a little discrepancy over when it was built. Be it 1923 or 1927, that sucker is old, but it's still rockin' and carrying on.

After Bob Radonich bought it in '55, his wife, Lylabell, came up with the name, "Java Jive," from a popular Ink Spots song.  Once inside, the loose Polynesian theme lives on in the spray-painted trees, African masks, zebra patterns, year-round Christmas lights, fishing nets, fake palm trees, flowers, birds, more graffiti than an alley in Los Angeles, miscellaneous game trophies, awards, you name it.  After squelching threats of demolition, almost burning down in '98, and having crippling financial issues, the coffee pot establishment was finally awarded official historical status as a cultural landmark. 

Saying the place is wacky is putting it mildly.  The Jive has been a go-go dance club, karaoke dive, drive-thru, speakeasy, rock/punk bar and home to 1960s surf rock band The Ventures and Obscure Movie Night Theater, but never an espresso bar or known for its coffee (truly it's bad). It's been a restaurant in the past, too, but not in the last 20 years. The bartender did make me a killer corn dog recently that was crisp and browned in all the right places. I drowned it in mustard and lovingly washed it down with a can of PBR.  Tacoma resident Sean Culver remarked on why he likes the Jive: "It's a little gritty. Sorta shady, dirty in an under-city way. The seats have rips, and there's writing on the tables. You can sing Johnny Cash in the back and get loud without being thrown out." 

Link: Current Entertainment Schedule

Link: Happy Hour

LINK: Tacomen show photos

LINK: Java Jive's 55th birthday

LINK: Best of Tacoma 2009

LINK: Primatious barfkieae pabstcannibus


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