There are some things you might only be able to notice if you happen to be an insider. If you have lived in Tacoma for any extended period of time, there is a pretty good chance that you feel a bit territorial about it. It is a city that gets told that it can't measure up to Seattle. It is often associated with a certain aroma, while residents know that the smell doesn't really exist anymore, or at least doesn't compare to how it did decades ago.
And if you ask around, residents would probably tell you that Tacoma has a small town feel in a city that has over 200,000 people living there. Faces are familiar, and many of the familiar faces are of those who pour drinks at the bars.
Tacoma bartenders in general aren't looking to "upgrade" to a restaurant in Seattle. They like where they work and live, and they like each other. And for a city that is relatively spread out, a bartender on one end of town might be just as familiar with a bartender on the other end of town as they would be with a bartender at the restaurant next door.
If Tacoma residents are territorial about their city, then Tacoma bartenders are the most territorial. They are close friends with their customers, and often consider each other as family.
And it shows. When tragedy strikes, they rally around each other. They praise each other. They laugh and cry with each other. And they know extremely well that the more you take care of this community, the more it takes care of you.
This story originally aired on Sept. 24, 2016