Raising a glass for Mark Long

Community remembers longtime Attic owner

Raising a glass for Mark Long

Raising a glass for Mark Long

Mark Long made a lot of friends in his nearly three decades running the Attic in Madison Park, many of whom raised a glass in his memory on Wednesday.

Long suffered a massive heart attack on July 27, leaving behind a wife, three children, and longtime staff and patrons.

Ed Erickson pointed at all of the storefronts around the Attic during Long’s memorial at the Madison Park tavern, listing off what used to be there when he worked at the business from 2000 to 2006.

“All these places didn’t survive, but this place survived,” Erickson said.

When he walked into the Attic, Erickson had just finished baseball at the University of Washington, and had moved into a building in the neighborhood with his girlfriend. He told Long he needed a job while he studied for the Medical College Admission Test.

“He said, ‘How about you start on Friday,’ not even lying,” Erickson said. “My job interview was about two minutes.”

Erickson started as a doorman, working his way up and into the lucrative Friday shift. He didn’t become a doctor — Erickson is a managing partner at Washington Financial Partners.

“Mark was a bottom-line guy,” he said. “He wanted to make sure you put the right stuff in front of people.”

“If you took care of the bar, the bar would take care of you,” said Simon Greene, who worked at the Attic from 2008 to 2012.

In Mark Long’s own words, he was recruited by his friend, Ron Boyle, to run the Attic in 1989. After three years putting in “sweat equity,” he bought out Boyle, who used the money to invest in “one of Seattle’s oldest bond brokerage houses.”

In less time, Long met his wife, Venessa, at the Attic, and she joined him in the business in March 1990.

According to the history of the Attic, written by Long and published on the tavern’s menu, 16 staff have met their spouses there over the years.

Greene met his wife, Grace Canby, when she brought her mother in during a Tuesday trivia night, which he’d started at the Attic. They won, and he invited them back to defend their title.

Long kept a good team and customer base, Greene said.

“I just love that you can always come back and you’re going to know somebody at the bar,” he said.

Susan Plunkett’s son, Tom, met his fiancée, Ann Zech, at the Attic. She came to the Attic to honor Long on Sept. 19.

“Many people have met their spouses here,” Plunkett said. “It’s a great neighborhood bar — a lot of heart goes into it.”

Madison Park native Marc Boyd “was born and raised on 43rd,” he said, but later moved out of the neighborhood. He’d still make his way to the Attic from time to time.

Boyd said he ran into Long the day he died, and they’d chatted briefly.

“He always took a minute to sit and visit and say hi,” he said. “The food is great here. He’s always done a really great job for being a little sports bar.”

The Attic had a history long before Long came onto the scene, first as a bowling alley and shooting gallery in 1904. It became a tavern in the late 1930s. The original Attic was torn down in 1967 and replaced with the current building at 4226 E. Madison St.

“My dad came here when he was in college,” said Mike O’Brien.

Known more these days for his position on the Seattle City Council, O’Brien was one of Long’s first employees, working there from 1989 to 1991.

“I just turned 21,” he said. “It was my junior year in college. I was, ‘Where should I work this summer?’”

Long trusted his employees, but also would share his experiences when he thought it would help, O’Brien said.

“He cared about your well being,” he said. “He was willing to let you try some stuff.”

Long and O’Brien stayed in touch over the years, and talked politics every once in a while, he said.

While he grew up in Kent, Long was born in Canada. His affinity for hockey stood out then, and his friends nicknamed him “Long Shot.”

“He’s Canadian,” said Randy Grein. “They play from the time they could toddle.”

Grein was one of several childhood friends that came out for Long’s memorial. Michael Gray remembered how Long would commute to Lynnwood to play hockey, the sport having not caught on in the United States yet.

He would organize an early morning floor hockey game with the high school coaches and his friends.

“Mark was just the superstar, right? Because he taught us everything we know about hockey,” Gray said.

Everyone went in different directions after high school, but many reconnected.

Grein credits Long with encouraging him to run for city council in Bellevue last year.

“That kind of encouragement is something he was always doing,” Grein said.

Grein’s wife Lauri used to be an emergency dispatcher in Seattle, and she remembered receiving the occasional noise complaint about the Attic.

As Long put it on the menu: “We had early battles with some neighbors about bands, overcrowding on $1 beer Thursdays and permit rejections.”

Lauri Grein said complaints rarely resulted in police responding to the Attic, and, if they did, it was usually to pop in and chat.

“Mark was the kind of guy who was friends with everybody,” Randy Grein said, “and I do mean everybody.”

Venessa Long has resumed daily and corporate management at the Attic, and Long’s son, Duncan, is managing daily operations. He started working with his father at the Attic in March, after turning 21.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to support Long’s three children .