Washington

Tacoma bar serves up a beer as memorial to fallen soldiers

An untouched Corona beer, purchased for a  fallen service member, has been  given a place of honor at Tacoma’s Buffalo Wild Wings.
An untouched Corona beer, purchased for a fallen service member, has been given a place of honor at Tacoma’s Buffalo Wild Wings. Staff writer

There it sits at a South Tacoma restaurant, given a place of honor next to an American flag and other mementos.

To the uninitiated, it’s nothing more than a bottle of beer with a wedge of fresh lime — a common sight in bars and restaurants everywhere.

But this one is different. It’s an impromptu memorial from a grieving sister to her fallen brother — and by extension, to thousands of other fallen service members.

Last Thursday a woman sat down for lunch at the Buffalo Wild Wings at 4219 S. Steele St. She ordered lunch and two beers.

Brian Avey, her server, asked who the other beer was for. He said he needed to see the person’s identification.

“I’m not going to drink it,” she said. “It’s for my brother.”

“He died fighting in Iraq.”

Avey was moved. So was his boss, Dan Banales, who insisted the restaurant pick up the tab.

Avey served the two cold ones — one Blue Moon and one Corona — and told the woman: “This one’s on the house,” setting the Corona across the table.

She left after lunch, and Avey bused the table, where he found a note:

“Thank you. An act of kindness goes a long way. It means a lot to me. Have a great rest of your day. — Grateful Soldiers.”

Avey picked up the untouched beer. He knew it held special significance.

“I wasn’t going to pour it out,” he recounted this week.

Avey told his boss, “I think we should save this beer, in honor of all fallen soldiers.”

Banales, the general manager, told him to go ahead, as long it gets a fresh wedge of lime everyday.

After Avey posted the story and a picture of the beer online, they went viral on social media, gathering 20,000 hits on Avey’s Facebook page alone. The restaurant received so many inquiries, Avey said, that it put a world map on the wall of the bar to track the locations.

In the beginning Banales figured the beer was just an isolated nice gesture. Then the calls started coming in from people asking: Is this the place where I can buy a beer for my soldier?

While it’s not possible to do that for so many, the lone beer will remain in its prominent place in the bar.

“It’s become a memorial to fallen soldiers all over the world,” Banales said.

David Anderson: 253-597-8670

david.anderson@thenewstribune.com

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