As a beloved neighborhood watering hole dependent upon die-hard area regulars, with a handful of dedicated employees and an expansive, well-sheltered back patio twice the capacity of the indoor space, Cully bar Mad Hanna seemed perfectly positioned to take advantage of state regulations guiding businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Instead, co-owners Liz Hanna and Brenna Walker have gone all in on a new business pivot, a model they consider "pandemic-proof."
A few weeks ago, the pair transformed the kitsch-strewn barroom into a retail space equal parts indie boutique, craft fair and whimsically curated market.
"When I was a kid," Hanna says, "I read all the Little House on the Prairie books and remember the general store they would visit, with the barrels and the smoked meats and all the things hanging. I loved that intentional community aspect of the era—coming together because you feel comfortable and safe—and we're trying to capture that here."
At the Hannex, as they're calling it, the table nearest the door has been reserved for gift-wrapping, while boxes of used LPs are displayed for sale atop the DJ cabinet, and video poker machines have been hidden behind coolers boasting fresh groceries and beer and wine to go.
Yuletide-themed displays hawking hipster curios and DIY tchotchkes share floor space with a vintage clothing aisle, local dry goods, and a central merch table boasting the latest releases from doom-metalers Witch Mountain, graphic novelist (and former WW contributor) Nathan Carson, and other proud patrons of the tavern.
After the holidays, Hanna hopes to formally move the Hannex operation next door, into the adjoining storefront formerly occupied by Proletariat Butcher. While the central array of collectibles—paintings, jewelry, build-your-own ukelele sets—may draw the eye, it's easy to imagine the burgeoning grocery section and surprisingly affordable day-to-day practicalities appealing most to area residents woefully underserved along this stretch of upper Cully.
Absent other nearby alternatives, simply offering a reliable source of batteries and distilled water should provide some solace in troubled times.
"If there's a zombie apocalypse, come here!" Hanna laughs. "Come here! We'll survive together."
SHOP: Hannex General Store, 6127 NE Fremont St., 503-288-2944, madhanna.com. Store hours 9 am-5 pm daily, bar open for outdoor service 11 am-11 pm.