A handful of reasons led to Marc Trivelpiece’s decision to relocate his family back to the Palouse after over half a decade away in other parts of the Gem State.
But when presented with the opportunity to purchase the bar he worked at for three years as a University of Idaho student and graduate, only one reason came to the top of his mind to move forward with it after talking it over with his wife.
“Because,” he said. “It’s the Club.”
Marc told me this years ago with a subtle shrug and an almost dumbfounded look on his face as to why I would even need to ask about his reasoning.
The Corner Club has that effect on people. It becomes a sense of family, a sense of who you are. For me, for Marc and for hundreds to thousands of other Vandals it plays a part in defining our time at the University of Idaho.
Like most of the greek community at UI, the Club became an essential part of his Vandal experience. It’s where he met his wife. And, even before he owned the place, it helped him pay the bills.
That association started 20 years ago to the month.
“When I turned 21 a couple of my frat brothers were employed here. Typically what happens is when someone leaves they leave a recommendation for someone else to take it over, and I got recommended and worked here.”
He developed the working relationship with then-Club owner Mike Curtis while tending to Club patrons during those three years.
After moving away, a distinct event in the news involving a murder and fatal head-on crash in Nampa while he was just starting his family in Meridian gave him the epiphany to return to the rolling hills of the Palouse.
“That was a mile from our house. I don’t want my kids to turn the TV on and see this stuff and think it’s normal. I didn’t want to raise our kids in that kind stuff, that kind of stuff happens. I didn’t want that.”
With family in mind, the Palouse, Wash. native returned home.
A small town guy, he wanted that for his children as well. It also played a part of why he chose to attend Idaho. He wanted something new, but also something familiar. Moscow delivered.
“When the majority of my graduating class went to WSU, I didn’t want to go back to high school … I wanted to try something different.”
He received a small scholarship because his father worked at Idaho at the time. He majored in recreation and in both the Club and being a part of the Vandal family has found a calling.
Marc purchased the bar in 2007 on the premise of keeping the environment and feel the same as it was in the hands of its two previous owners.
“It was important for the Curtis family, they didn’t want it to change,” Marc said. “They didn’t want to change the spot they hung out.”
With that said, it was important to Marc personally to modernize the Club a bit. He brought in flat screen televisions, added more taps, added more wells and expanded and replaced the bar top to add more points of service for his bartenders to get drinks out faster.
Come during the day, and you’ll hear ESPN or the Golf Channel blaring, see noodles drinking a Rainier and others reading through the Spokesman-Review. (There used to be this weird kid who’d come to watch soccer on Tuesdays).
Come at night and you’ll hear Drake and Future bumping on the speakers and have to fight your way to the bar for a drink.
Even exchange students, such as from Brazil, found a love of the Club. The Jukebox somehow housing Portuguese Brazilian music helped.
This is the Club that Marc has kept. A Club for everybody.
“People have talked to me about expanding the footprint, what I’m concerned with is the atmosphere, why fix something that isn’t broke,” Marc said. “I’m bringing it (the Club) in at least to the 90’s even though it’s the two thousands.”
But the 90’s isn’t such a bad place to be when you’re at The Club. Or the 80’s, when Vandal athletics were tearing shit up with a high-flying nationally ranked basketball program and a football program that taught Dennis Erickson how to win championships before he left the Palouse snow for Miami beaches.
“At the end of every football year the seniors would come down here with the coaches and it would take us hour to get them out because they didn’t want to leave,” Marc said. ” … Originally it was just a farmer’s bar but when Hermie got sick and got Dave Goetz to help, he’s the one who got the university people to come down. And he really nurtured the relationship between the AD and the bar. At first it was mainly the basketball relationship, over the years it’s evolved to everything.”
The advent of social media has curved the number of coaches coming to the bar on a regular basis, but athletes from every sport have made the bar their home. And for anybody who wants to stand on a chair and belt out the words, the Jukebox will always be turned off to accommodate the fight song.
Asking why will just make you look stupid.
“Fuck man, I’m a Vandal. There’s not very many of us out there,” Marc said. “I want a spot where the Vandals are spotlighted. This is Moscow. This is a Vandal bar and that’s what it’s going to be as long as I have any say in it.”