New Life for an Old Boise Establishment
The former Olympic Hotel in the historic Larson Building above Mulligans Pub and Eatery has long been nothing more than a forgotten, dust-collecting, dilapidated storage space—but times are changing. Renamed the Olympic Venue, the former-hotel-turned-special-events-space at 1009 Main Street in downtown Boise opened to the public in mid-June after being closed for years and years.
Owner Alicia Wagner, owner of Mulligans since 2001, bought the space in 2005 and started renovations on the hundred-year-old building last June. Much of the original hotel has been preserved and repurposed to keep the historical integrity of the space intact. The front façade of the building remains unchanged—except for upgraded windows, that is. Even the red and yellow neon ‘Olympic Hotel’ sign, eagerly restored by Rocket Neon, remains front and center outside. Wagner says the additional ‘Venue’ portion of the sign is temporarily down due to high winds.
Inside the building, the bar, columns, stage, and tables that scatter the open floor plan are made from repurposed hotel floorboards. Old brick and large, colorful, painted graphics—one for mouthpiece cigarettes—have been unearthed from behind thick layers of plaster on the walls. The only thing that doesn’t look repurposed is the pool table. Paintings in the windows of an adjacent building created by a Mulligans bartender depict different bars around Boise. Although the paintings are new, it feels like they’re steeped in as much history as the rest of the building.
After the soft opening of the Olympic Venue, celebrated by friends, family and people who had worked on the project, Wagner recalls a woman who used to live at the hotel years ago that came by with her daughter to see the changes being made to her former home—her presence bridging the gap between then and now.
Today, the new 21+, 320-occupancy Olympic Venue will host live music of all genres, holiday parties, company parties and more. Wagner says in regards to music, she wants to focus on local bands and bands that travel the Seattle-Portland-Boise-Salt Lake City circuit. Bands like Hillfolk Noir, Riotmaker and The Young Romans have already graced the stage.
Patrons can wander between Mulligans and the Olympic Venue and bring food up from downstairs to enjoy while they listen to music. Wagner says the City of Boise has been helpful and supportive of her plan to improve downtown with the Olympic Venue, and that her regular Mulligans customers have been positive during the transition.The reception has been great from clientele both new and old. Frequenters of Mulligans may recognize familiar faces upstairs, as Wagner says much of the Olympic staff is from Mulligans. The Venue may be open full time eventually, but Wagner doesn’t want to detract from Mulligans, which is a local staple.
Partygoers should keep their eyes peeled for details about an Olympic Venue Halloween extravaganza that surely shouldn’t be missed. The Olympic Venue is open Friday and Saturday 5 p.m.-2 a.m. To find out more, visit TheOlympicVenue.com.