In 1996, Nick
Stepovich stepped out onto the scorched roof of Soapy Smith’s Pioneer Restaurant, his family-owned business on 2nd Avenue in downtown Fairbanks, and thought to himself, “This space was meant to be a deck.”
Soon after, his wife Christina helped him knock out a wall and build a sun-drenched deck for customers of Soapy’s, billed as one of the most authentic Alaskan joints in the Interior and serving up trademark King Crab burgers, delicious seafood chowder, prime rib, halibut, and salmon to locals on lunch break and curious visitors.
Sixteen years later, the second story deck of Soapy Smith’s has received a major facelift.
This spring, Nick expanded the deck and installed additional cafe and bar seating, doubling its capacity and adorning it with flower boxes and shade umbrellas. Patrons can perch atop bar stools lining the outer rim of the deck and order a cold one (Soapy’s serves bottled Silver Gulch and Alaskan beers, as well as wine) or choose from a list of appetizers. All while overlooking the street bustle of 2nd Avenue under the “watchful eyes” of the Soapy Smith’s lady painted on the building’s wall and made famous by Into the Wild, who also happens to be knocking one back.
Which means at Soapy’s—you’ll never drink alone.
Nick says to expect growler nights and live music on the new deck later this summer. Better yet, the deck will host a Midnight Sun Beer Garden for the Midnight Sun Festival (Sunday, June 24th) during which music from the MAC Caribou Stage is well within earshot. Festival-goers can climb to the rooftop of Soapy’s and watch the street fair unfold from a bird’s eye view.
Soapy Smith’s is already well-known for its homespun atmosphere and local artifacts like the original theatre seats from the Empress Theatre in the Co-Op Plaza. Nick has a long political and family history in the state which he shares with customers in floor shows during busy times and memorabilia that hangs on every wall.
As Nick puts it, “You’ve got to come to Alaska to get to Soapy Smith’s.” There’s no other place quite like it in the city, state, or elsewhere.
Need one last reason to frequent the new deck atop Soapy’s? It’s the exclusive turf of Bill, the hard-working and sarcastic Soapy’s waiter who never meets a customer without making a new friend.
Tell him we sent you.
Soapy Smith’s Pioneer Restaurant
543 2nd Avenue