Twenty years ago when I moved to Lower Queen Anne for the first time, the happening place to eat, drink and hang out was Duke's - the original site of the once-locally-famous chain - at 232 First Ave. W.
Ivar's was good, but Duke's fish and chips were almost to die for. And the ambience was that nice mix - comfortable and yet somehow almost stylish - that the old Seattle seemed able to pull off with a lot less effort than what one often sees while dining out nowadays.
Duke's is no more, but once again you can get some great fish and chips in a fine neighborhood pub-eatery atmosphere at the old address.
Buckley's on Queen Anne opened on the site about a month ago.
People familiar with the old Belltown Pub (on First, between Bell and Battery) which closed last September are already streaming up the hill to Buckley's.
Because Tim Buckley, who managed the Belltown Pub for a decade, has opened the new place bearing his name.
Buckley is a transplanted Seattleite who moved here from St. Cloud, Minn., in 1986 and has never left. He's closer to home on the old Duke's site since he's lived on Queen Anne Hill for the past decade.
In fact, according to Buckley, most of his 17-person staff also lives in Queen Anne.
Buckley stresses friendly, "kind" service, and to that end he has brought Chuck Gomez, Steve Gagnon, Tim Johnston, Harrison Hegberg, Terry Gildea and Pete Yeager along with him from Belltown.
"These guys were the heart and soul of the Belltown Pub," Buckley said. "They're helping to give Buckley's a nice, warm feeling. My idea is to make sure the food is good, the place is clean and the feeling is welcoming. We're here to cater to the neighborhood. I pride myself on this crew.
"There's more to a place than just the building," Buckley added.
That said, the jump to the old Duke's location wasn't hastily made.
"I spent nine months searching for the right spot," Buckley noted.
Buckley's chef will be Ben Resnick, who opened the Ikon Grill. His sous-chef, Lorie Lockwood, who has worked at Rover's, amongst other eateries, helped put the opening menu together.
In homage to Duke's, Buckley's does carry fish and chips, plus a nice clam chowder. But there's more to the menu than those old staples.
"I'd say our burgers and our sandwich and soup specials every day," Buckley said when asked what he most likes to chow down on from the current menu.
The kitchen, open every day from 11:30 a.m. until 10 or so every night, also cranks out five salads, six appetizers (including Parmesan Cheese fries) and 10 sandwiches above and beyond the four versions of a burger available.
After 5 p.m. if you want more than a sandwich and a side, there are 12 dinner items on offer, including everything from a peanut stirfry to a rib-eye steak.
There's also a children's menu featuring six choices, all accompanied by Smiley fries.
All of the breads on Buckley's menu are from the Macrina Bakery atop Queen Anne.
"You can come here in casual attire, and we have a great kids' menu. My son's involved in Queen Anne Little League; I hope to eventually sponsor a team," Buckley said. (Ally Buckley and Tim have two kids, Spencer, 7, and Gianna, 3.)
Buckley's also is offering weekend breakfasts.
"I hope to help out the 5-Spot and the Queen Anne Café [on top of Queen Anne Hill] by relieving some of the congestion from [in front of] their places," Buckley said laughing.
Befitting a fellow who, according to the Zagat Survey, served the best pint of Guinness three years in a row, Buckley is offering 14 draft beers, 13 bottled beers, well drinks, soft drinks and red and white wines.
There are also widescreen televisions ("I'm a big sports fan") and a penetrating sound system.
"I've bartended 20 years," Buckley recalled. "The Source magazine named me the best bartender in Seattle in 1996. I have a passion for this business. We'll go out of our way to take care of our customers."
He spent the first few days after Buckley's opened in the kitchen. "Everything there [on the menu], especially the sandwiches, is the way I want it," Buckley noted proudly.
The bugs are already out of the system, but Buckley said that the opening a month ago came as something of a surprise to him and his veteran staff.
"I think when we opened, we thought that with 10 years under our belts everything would run smoothly. The first Friday we were open, we were completely full. There was an hour ticket time [60 minutes from order to eating]. We got that fixed in two days and now the ticket time is 10 minutes, so a businessperson can come in, get their food and get back to the office. But we were surprised [at first]," he said, smiling at the wonder of the restaurant business, which is always a surprise in one way or another.
"Come on down to Buckley's and we will do whatever it takes to take care of you," Buckley said to a visitor who was leaving.
"This is a neighborhood place," he added and it was easy to believe him when he said he wants customers to become regulars who eventually become friends.