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Quinn's Restaurant and Lounge

Longtime Boise mainstay has earned its stripes

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If a landmark is something that has long been part of a city's landscape, Quinn's Restaurant and Lounge on Vista Avenue is definitely a landmark.

Quinn's big, bright sign, which stands nearly as high the ubiquitous yellow arches down the street, has beckoned hundreds of motorists zipping up and down Vista every day for decades. Strangely, though, Quinn's is still a mystery to many Boiseans.

Those who have discovered the Bench stalwart, however, know that Quinn's is more than a restaurant and lounge--it's a place that morphs by the day, transforming from hip-hop club to karaoke bar to brunch spot.

Gary Sullivan has owned Quinn's for more than 30 years (his daughter, Lisa, is now co-owner) and in that time, the restaurant has evolved from a smokers' haven to a family restaurant that is also a favorite of those looking to nurse a hangover with an affordable weekend brunch.

Thanks to the city of Boise's strict no-smoking regulations, smokers can no longer hang out indoors and now have to retreat to a secluded, but spacious patio hidden from Vista by three walls of hedges, where both Camels and Coronas are welcome.

Kitchen manager Stan Joslin has his own Quinn's stories, which are mostly--no surprise--about the food. Joslin, who has worked at Quinn's for nearly seven years, proudly explained that the fingersteaks are made from top sirloin, prime rib is available every night and he cuts the rib eye steaks himself from the prime rib.

But Joslin keeps his eye on what's going on at the front of the house, too, as he helps manage on-site entertainment.

"I run the karaoke, too," he said, adding with a smile, "On Thursday and Saturday nights, I'm DJ Steams."

: Joslin said that Quinn's is packed on hip-hop Fridays and open mic comedy brings plenty of people in the door.

"Last Monday, we had about 40 people watching, and at least 10 comics signed up to perform," Joslin said before heading back into the kitchen.

Bartender Ty Nelson participates in the entertainment side as well, but as more of an entertainer. He greets everyone who walks through the door, saying hello to patrons before they even take a seat and offering them a quick joke. But he's always serious about his work.

"At the start of every shift, I make sure all the labels are facing out on the bottles," Nelson said. "Then I go around the bar so I can see them the way customers see them to make sure they look right."

Quinn's menu spans seven pages of affordable, American-style fare dished up until 3 a.m.--yes, 3 a.m-- Wednesday through Saturdays by servers who seem genuinely happy to be there.

Breakfast is available all day, but it's Sunday brunch that draws the hard-core regulars, often nursing a touch of a hangover with the free bottle of champagne offered with the purchase of two entrees--orange juice is extra.

It's the kind of place where patrons can quietly sip a tumbler of Crown Royal, sit down to a plate of bacon and eggs or meatloaf and mashed potatoes, or test some new jokes--and feel perfectly welcome doing it all.

Nelson said Quinn's long-standing ownership gives the place a "mom and pop" feel. And for every one of those people who pass Quinn's by, there are dozens more who think of it as a home-away-from-home.