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The Legend of Billy Jack: The Bannock Street Garage Changes Hands

The legend of Billy Jack lives on at the Bannock Street Garage.EXPAND
The legend of Billy Jack lives on at the Bannock Street Garage.
Mark Antonation

There are certain dive-bar comforts that bring customers back in the door again and again, turning occasional drop-ins into die-hard regulars. At the Bannock Street Garage, which opened at 1015 Bannock Street sixteen years ago, there's the ring-and-hook game that provides hours of low-brainpower entertainment, the free popcorn machine (also known as "substitute dinner" for those lingering too long over drinks), and the loud punk music pumping from the bare-bones space that justifies the "Garage" part of the bar's name.

The Golden Triangle bar's signature special, though, is the Billy Jack: a $5 deal that lands you a PBR, a whiskey shot and a cigarette. It's the perfect package deal for someone who can't quite let go of a smoking habit — or is trying to start one.

But the Bannock Street Garage just changed hands. Does that put the Billy Jack on the endangered-species list?

The BSG has long been a sanctuary for counterculture drinkers and music fans, even as the Golden Triangle has gentrified around it. During last year's Westword Music Showcase, which takes place every June within bass-shaking range of the Garage, the bar, once a regular venue for punk acts at Showcase, even held its own unaffiliated music festival: Billy Jack's Music Showcase.

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The Garage's new owner is Dino McTaggart, who also owns the Cap City Tavern just two blocks away at 1247 Bannock Street. He says he'd been talking with the Garage's founder, Eddie Morrissey, for about a year about buying the place, and now the deal is done.

McTaggart has five years left on his lease at Cap City, but he won't be able to renew after that because the building is slated for redevelopment, he says. He bought the Bannock Street Garage so that he could keep pouring drinks in the neighborhood.

What does that mean for the Billy Jack? McTaggart insists that he doesn't plan on making any changes at the bar except to tidy up a little and bring in some new bands. While he points out that it's not legal to sell single cigarettes across the bar, that isn't a danger here, since he considers the combo a beer-and-shot special, with the free cigarette a gift from the bartender.

So light up, Billy Jack fans. The legend lives.

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