Lehman
Lehman

The food business was fast, furious and plentiful in Madison Park. Our quest for a full-service restaurant was nevertheless active. Riley’s Cafe went out of business after World War II, along with the “Leschi Ferry’s” last run from Madison Park. Mr. Johnson, who owned the large marina south of Madison Beach, bought Riley’s and named it The Silver Swan. It was the same name as his tour boat that ran on the Sound, Lake Washington and Lake Union. That vessel helped commuters when ferries went on strike, and became a dine-and-dance cruise ship.

Ella’s Café served the best burgers and eventually became Crepe de Paris. This was beginning to look like a full-service restaurant, minus the liquor. In the early 80’s Sostanza moved into the space followed by Madison Park Conservatory, then The Beach House, and it is now Park Place at Madison Park. 

The Purple Poodle Tavern was located where McGilvra’s is now. During the day there were only a few regulars but under cover of darkness some females entered through the back door. The women in Madison Park didn’t go into taverns as a rule, as their husbands or significant others were at war and the scuttlebutt would start if found out.

A big Wurlitzer jukebox played loudly to the laughing, dancing patrons. In the summer months, owner Bert Nyquist sold quarts of beer in brown paper bags to be consumed at the beach. One day he had a record sale of brew to go! One after another — even groups of people — came in to buy beer. At the end of the day, while counting his sales, he whispered to himself, “Whoops!” He forgot it was illegal to sell booze on Sundays; hard to believe someone didn’t comment that it was Sunday. 

Around the corner the Quality Café was a steadfast eatery that eventually became the Attic Tavern in the early ‘50s. It was half the width of the present-day Attic location next door. Despite the small size, around 200 steins hung from the ceiling. Both the Attic and Red Onion were on the top-10 beer sales list in Washington at that time.

Once while tending bar at the Attic in the ’50s, I noticed some tall dudes in heavy wool coats and hats that hid their faces looking toward the end of the bar. They were looking for under-agers, which if caught serving youth would fine the tavern and shut it down for 7-10 days. If that happened, we’d throw a party and give away kegs of beer that would go flat. Who wouldn’t show up for free beer? To help with the fines the happy beer folks threw money into a jar and the tavern reopened. 

Just west of those taverns a new endeavor appeared, Eggs ‘Cetera, owned by Mark and Wendell.  It had a huge menu, great breakfast and a community table where many a relationship began. It was just second to the tavern in popularity, and where it was said one could fall in love twice in one evening. 

Just past the Madison Park Bakery — with its heavenly aromas wafting into the air to this day —was the Bamboo Terrace. It was the only restaurant open on Sundays, so people would stand in line rain or shine to get a good Chinese dinner. There was nothing better after a night at the taverns then to dine on Chinese food just a few steps away. 

Budweiser had just released 16-ounce beer cans. It required a special opener: a screwdriver, a sharp knife or a long-handled pick axe would even work. The waitress came by and smiled as our water glasses suddenly had big foamy heads. The Terrace had an amazingly short run, and moved out of the Park.

It wasn’t until the early ‘80s that a full-service restaurant appeared, and it was Peter Hoedemaker’s (Canlis Family) “Peters in the Park.”  Residents had mixed emotions about a cocktail lounge coming into the neighborhood. It was rumored that the Hindquarters in Leschi had hard booze, and the crowd tended to get rowdy.

The night Peter’s opened the crowd was well behaved and everyone was thrilled to have such a great place to dine. Carpeted floors, large windows, two bars and delightful hosts added to the experience. We took pictures and met the owners, as well as Jody Benson from Four Seasons and Henry’s Off Broadway, who will always be remembered as one of the best chefs in recent times.  Remember the Nougat dessert?

Manca’s followed and carried on the reputation, later turning into Starbucks. 

We Madison Parkers are a fickle bunch and always await the opening of new restaurants to suit our tastes.