Which Seattle Restaurant Turns Eighty-Freakin’-Five This Week?
Hint: Huge portions, reality TV, killer pie. Still don’t have it? How about urinal periscope.
You know it’s the 5-Point Cafe.
“Do you know if you Botox your armpits you won’t sweat?” I overheard the bartender remark on my last visit, presumably to someone. “All the celebrities do it.”
I seriously love the 5-Point.
The all-day-all-night Cedar Street dive which opened its doors in 1929 made its first name for itself at the close of Prohibition, when it sloshed through 75 kegs of beer a day. “I made my first million selling ten-cent drinks of beer for a nickel,” recounted founder Preston Smith. Large portions for small prices became the calling card; “Alcoholics Serving Alcoholics Since 1929” the slogan.
In 1975 Smith’s son Dick took over and cranked up the 5’s goofball appeal, hiring waitresses to roller skate the streets of Belltown in bikinis to plug expiring parking meters (leaving windshield flyers saying the 5-Point saved them a parking ticket), and installing the most famous restroom novelty in, perhaps, the world: a periscope where men at the urinal can see the Space Needle.
(Women sneaking in for a peek has been, um, known to happen.)
In 2009 local music industry impresario and minimum wage debate gadfly Dave Meinert acquired the place, raising the quality of the food while keeping prices $10ish and below. In addition to the overheard delectables—seriously, this joint deals the best eavesdropping in town—I have savored some of the best pie (cherry crumb, I believe) I have had in a Seattle restaurant, ever. On another visit, we ordered a huge portion of chicken fried steak drenched in sausage gravy with mashed potatoes and a huge slice of beautifully cooked pot roast.
“Dainty, huh?” cracked our waitress.
All this and reality TV too. Sheesh.
Once in good company, the 5-Point is now one of the last of a dying breed of working-class diners that pretty much runs to the Hurricane Café and Beth’s Café…and bests them both for good old gut-filling comfort eats.
Celebrate with nostalgic specials all this birthday week: Today 25-cent burgers from 4pm to 10pm, Tuesday dime beers 4pm to 10pm, Wednesday 50-cent breakfasts 6am to 10am, Thursday whiskey shots for a buck 4pm to 10pm, and, on the Fourth of July, 35-cent Blue Plate Specials 4pm to 10pm.