Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along

People all over North America are familiar with Red Robin restaurants. Everybody knows about their big burgers, cartoon mascot, and secret French fry seasoning. But what many people don’t know is that the first Red Robin opened in Seattle.

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The 1,200 square foot building, located by the south end of the University Bridge at 3272 Fuhrman Avenue East, was erected in 1916. In 1943, it opened as Sam’s Tavern.

Sam, the tavern’s owner and namesake, sang in a barbershop quartet. He loved the song “When the Red Red Robin” so much that he changed the same of his tavern to “Sam’s Red Robin.”

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Exterior, February 16, 2010

In 1969, Gerry Kingen, the son of local restaurant owners, bought the Red Robin Tavern. He continued to run the establishment in the same spirit as Sam, serving up booze, popcorn, and sandwiches to university students and local houseboat inhabitants.

Four years later, the Red Robin briefly closed for a remodel. In addition to building a deck on the back of the building, Kingen added burgers, fish & chips, and steak to the menu. Large wooden electrical cable spools with a layer of thick resin on top served as tables.

When the restaurant reopened, business tripled. In response to the success, Kingen opened another location in Northgate.

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Front Entrance with Stained Glass Window

In 1979, two Red Robin regulars opened the first Red Robin franchise in Yakima, Washington, and the following year Red Robin opened a location in Oregon.

As for the building on Fuhrman Avenue? Sadly, unlike most locations posted here, the original Red Robin no longer stands. Only a few months after my February 2010 visit, this location closed, citing expensive maintenance. The 98-year-old building was demolished August 28, 2014.

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Old Mascot?

Now an empty parking lot, the future of the site is uncertain. It appears that the most popular suggestion is to build multi-story apartments.

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Courtesy of Google Maps

The demise of the building can actually be traced on Google Maps street view, which shows the slow regression from 2008 to 2015. The 2015 view shows the old flooring still in place, as well as the old sidewalk.

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Hardwood and Brick Flooring, 2010

While the decor was fairly mainstream Red Robin when I dined there, the building had a character unique to this specific location. Wood-covered walls, stained glass, and the smallest bathrooms known to man were just some of the features that made this location a true dining experience despite the standard menu, furniture, and glass-covered sun room.

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Custom Stained Glass

Interestingly, a new Sam’s Tavern has opened up in Seattle. With locations in Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, and Redmond, its about page credits Sam’s Red Robin as its predecessor.

 

 

Snow Day!

While it can make the morning commute an even bigger headache, this week’s sudden snowstorm has been a blessing to those hoping to hit the slopes this weekend. In honor of the beautiful yet sometimes pesky snow, take a look at Summit West circa 1962!

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Double Chairlift and new Skihaus Restaurant, Lodge, and Gift Shop

At a height of 3,865 feet, Summit West, also known simply as Snoqualmie, is the family and beginner ski slope at Snoqualmie Pass. Operated by the same company as Alpental, Summit East, and Summit Central, it features two quad chair lifts, one triple chair lift, four double chair lifts, two doube chair lifts, and one handle-tow lift.

Public use of the area dates back to 1933 when the City of Seattle operated a city ski park named Municipal Park. Seven years later locals objected, saying that Seattle was too far away from the area (about 46 miles) to claim it as a city park. The city relented and sold the park to Ski Lifts, Inc. who changed the park’s name to Snoqualmie Summit Ski Area. Shortly after, the new owners installed a rope-tow.

Although business was spotty during the war years, Webb Moffet, the owner of Ski Lifts Inc., focused on developing the area to attract more visitors. Nighttime skiing arrived in the late 1940s when Moffett installed gas station lights along the slopes to allow employees the chance to ski after hours. Soon paying guests were staying for nighttime skiing as well, making Snoqualmie the second place in the country to offer this type of skiing.

Snoqualmie Summit continued to grow throughout the 1950s. Thunderbird, the summit’s first chairlift, opened in 1954. Two years later, Thunderbird Restaurant opened at the top of the summit, offering skiers warm food and majestic mountain views. The completion of Skihaus, a restaurant, lodge, and gift shop, completed the Summit’s status as a wintertime tourist destination.

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SNOQUALMIE SUMMIT SKI AREA, WASHINGTON, 46 miles from Seattle on Highway #10, is a popular resort with its double chairlift (shown in foreground), three PomaLifts, twelve rope tows, Thunderbird Restaurant at top of chairlift and new SKIHAUS — recently completed fabulous lodge.

Ski Lifts, Inc. operated Summit West and its surrounding summits through 1998, when it sold to Booth Creek Ski Holdings, Inc. Thunderbird Restaurant closed in 1990, due at least partly to the lack of running water and indoor plumbing.

Although renovated and hardly recognizable if not for it’s sharply sloped roof, Skihaus still exists. Now Webb’s Restaurant, it continues to serve thousands of hungry skiers every season.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are all having a day filled with food, family, and fun! In honor of the holiday known for its feasting, I thought I’d share this 1970s postcard of Roy’s Chuckwagon, a buffet with 11 locations scattered across Washington.

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From Bellingham to Chehalis to Spokane

I couldn’t find very much information about Roy’s, apart from a few addresses and some mentions in newspapers and obituaries. Roy’s may have had it’s start in Baker, Oregon as “Roy’s Pancake Corral and Chuckwagon.” It appears that the first Chuckwagon restaurants in Washington opened in the 1960s. They enjoyed some popularity in the 1970s, and some locations stayed open into the 1990s. They were often popular gathering spots for local service and Bible clubs.

The restaurant was also sometimes called “Roy’s Western Smorgasbord” or “Roy’s Western Smorgy.” Some past locations include:

Chehalis: 50 NE Meridian Street

Pasco: 1315 N 20th Ave

Richland: 6699 Columbia Park Trail

Walla Walla: Inside the Big Y Shopping Center

Whoever owned this postcard previously ate at the Auburn location in 1974.

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COME ‘N GET IT! Western Style Family Buffet. “Eat all you want” Specialties: Baron of beef–Ham–Fried chicken–Salads galore–Dessert–Beverage. “We Love Kids!” ROY’S CHUCKWAGON

The Walla Walla location appears to have opened in early 1967. Advertisements for this location reveal that the restaurant was open for lunch (11AM to 2PM) and dinner (4:30-8:30PM), and served a “complete new menu every day!” Roy’s prided itself for serving delicious food at a reasonable price, and interestingly, children’s prices depended on age: 10 cents per year up to age ten (ten cents to $1; about 72 cents to $7.24 today). An adult dinner cost $1.95 (about $14 today).

Whether you’re enjoying Baron of Beef, ham, fried chicken, or turkey today, have a great Thanksgiving!

Louis, Louis

Everybody’s heard of Crab Louis, but did you know that it’s supposed inventor was a successful restaurateur and later hotel owner in Spokane?

Yes, I’m talking about Louis Davenport.

Llewellyn “Louis” Davenport came to Spokane Falls in early 1889 at the age of 20 to work in his uncle’s restaurant. Just a few months later on August 4th, a fire wiped out 32 square blocks of the city, burning the restaurant with it. While locals called it “the most devastating fire that has occurred in the history of the world,” Davenport did not stay discouraged long. The following morning, he salvaged what he could from his uncle’s restaurant and opened “Davenport’s Waffle Foundry” in a tent-like structure amidst the rubble.

A year later, Davenport moved his restaurant to a brick building in the Wilson Block and renamed it “Davenport’s Restaurant.” The restaurant and it’s offerings continued to expand over the next several years. In 1903-1904, Davenport purchased the adjacent Bellevue Block, expanded “Davenport’s”, created a lavish ballroom, and turned the upstairs of the building into “The Pennington Hotel.” His menu offered over 100 items.

Davenport hired architect Kirtland Cutter to make his two buildings match. Cutter suggested a Mission-Revival style, which was vastly different from the other buildings in town.

Sources disagree on what exactly happened next, but in 1908 it was announced that a grand hotel would soon be built in Spokane Falls, and by 1912 the Davenport Hotel Company was formed. Cutter and his partner Karl Malmgren were selected to design the new building, and a grand, ornate structure was designed. Davenport didn’t want to spend unnecessary money on fancy ornamentation, and a simpler design was made. It cost about $2 million.

In 1912, buildings currently on the hotel site were demolished, and construction began the following year. Not a single worker was killed or seriously injured. Cutter and Davenport traveled the world, selecting only the finest furniture, rugs, and other decor.

When the Davenport Hotel opened September 1, 1914, it’s dining room featured fine art, Irish linens from Liddell, and a 15,000-piece set of Reed & Barton silverware, the largest private order created by the company.

The Davenport was considered one of America’s finest hotels. Looking through this brochure, it’s easy to see why.

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Engraved Handle

I’m not sure about the age of this spoon, or if it came from Louis Davenport’s restaurant or hotel, but it’s a silver-plated tea spoon from Reed & Barton in the double-stamped Belmont design.

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The design runs down the entire handle

Belmont was designed in 1906 by August Miller and was a popular choice for hotel silver. This particular piece has “Davenport’s” engraved in cursive on the handle. The back reads “Patent Approved for Reed & Barton B.P”. The Belmont design was still offered in 1908 where it appeared in the Reed & Barton catalogue. The price for a dozen spoons was either  $4.75 or $6.50 (about $110 or $150 today).

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Markings on back

I don’t know when the pattern was discontinued, but it’s possible that this piece was part of the 15,000 piece set first used in the hotel. At least, it’s fun to think so!

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Front of Spoon
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Back of Spoon

Squirrels, and Dirndls, and Bears- Oh My!

I apologize for the sudden absence! Midterms have finally passed, and I’m happy to be back and present you with a 1960s view of The Squirrel Tree Restaurant and Motel!

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Stay the night Squirrel-Style!

This lovely Alpine oasis may very well have been the birthplace of modern-day Leavenworth.

Bob Rodgers and Ted Price, two World War II friends, were looking for a way to escape their lives in Seattle and retreat to someplace near the beautiful Cascade Mountains. In 1960, they purchased Cole’s Corner Cafe and renamed it The Squirrel Tree. Bob had fallen in love with Bavarian style and culture while serving in the army and pushed for a Bavarian theme  for the soon-to-be-renovated restaurant.

He got his wish, and traditional Bavarian styles, costumes, music, and Christmas lighting all became part of the Squirrel Tree experience. The restaurant was so popular that Bob and Ted decided to build a six-room motel next to the restaurant in 1961.

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“It’s Swiss” See the wild bears. Located on U.S. Hwy 2, 14 miles west of Leavenworth, Wash., near Lake Wenatchee. Deluxe accommodations at Thrifty Prices. Phone Area Code 509 KImbal 8-2720.

Besides the Bavarian theme, The Squirrel Tree had unique visitors that set it apart from other restaurants. Wild black bears would come to the restaurant for food scraps, taking them from the hands and even mouths of workers!

Ted and Bob planned to build an entire Bavarian village near the restaurant and lodge, but it was just not possible. This spurred the pair to turn their attention to the neighboring town of Leavenworth. At the time, Leavenworth was struggling to survive, but in just a few years, it would be a bustling tourist destination…

Located along Highway 2, The Squirrel Tree Restaurant and Motel are still in business! You can check out their website here.

Fair Weather

Spring has officially arrived, and in many cities around Washington, it’s felt a bit more like August than April. Seattle beat a heat record Monday with a sweltering 89 degrees!

54 years ago today, the temperature was a comfortable 64 degrees, perfect for the opening day of the 1962 World’s Fair.

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Although the Needle had been painted white in 1968, these matchboxes seem to commemorate its original galaxy gold glory.

In honor of opening day, I have a pair of 1970s matchboxes from the Space Needle restaurant, which was then operated by Western International Hotels. The boxes are small, only a few inches high, and filled to brim with tiny matches…

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Gold-tipped matched! How much classier could it get?

… with gold heads!

The front of the matchboxes feature a white silhouette of the Space Needle, prior to the 1982 addition. The back features a logo and a telephone number for reservations.

The restaurant, originally named “The Eye of the Needle”, welcomed its first visitors to a gala on March 24, 1962, before the fair even opened. Located at a height of 500 feet, it was the second revolving restaurant in the world. Its floor, powered by a 1 horsepower motor,  made a complete rotation once every hour. Imagine the surprise some diners felt when they left their handbags on the windowsill!

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Got a match?

Today, the restaurant is called “Sky City”, and it features a menu of local ingredients. The floor, now powered by a 1.5 horesepower motor, makes a complete rotation once every 58 minutes. Although still considered fine dining, the dress code is much more casual than it was 54 years ago.

The “Lunar Orbiter Dessert”, a brownie sundae topped with strawberries served surrounded by dry ice, is the only menu item remaining from the fair.