The building opened in 1931 as the Harrah Brothers grocery store.
HERE IS ANOTHER Foster and Kleiser photo of a prominent business intersection in Seattle where the famous billboard company might have been planning, or merely hoping for, a giant sign. Let us imagine it on the roof above the Harrah Brothers grocery at the scene’s center. (The grocery fills the space behind the three plate-glass windows shown above the motorcar moving south on 10th Avenue North.)
The Harrah brothers opened their new store on Aug. 25, 1931. The “then” photograph is dated 1932, so the comely light-brick business block, designed by architect Earl W. Morrison for the southwest corner of Broadway and Roy Street, is about a year old. The Harrahs were not new on Broadway, having first settled on this North Broadway block about 20 years earlier. The brothers ran their first Seattle Times classified ad in June 1910, when they were looking for a “first-class bread baker.” In an illustrated Times advertisement on April 14, 1911, the grocery’s new van was pictured. Below it, the partners bragged in print that with their auto delivery, “Harrah Bros. succeeded in supplying their patrons with Hot Cross Buns in time for breakfast this morning.”
In 1934, this corner was approved for a tavern by Washington State’s new Liquor Control Board. With Prohibition recently over, the board fancied the corner for a bar, and somehow convinced Berlin Cleaners, which was then holding the corner next door to Harrah Brothers, to relocate two blocks south. There, a popular baked-bean merchant named McCullock was persuaded by the board to move to the nearby Haynes Candy Store on Olive Way. The confectionary had been swayed by the board to move to a nearby vacant storefront on East Pine Street. Despite the board’s Machiavellian efforts, by 1939, this corner of Broadway and Roy had been temporarily reformed from alcohol to ice cream. However, in seven more years, it reverted to spirits with the first of the De Luxe taverns.
With “De” and “Luxe” joined, the DeLuxe in the “now” photo opened in 1962, with Joe Rogel and Bernie Minsk the gregarious partners. Rogel also had a strong relationship with Art Davis, the former janitor at DeLuxe, according to Rogel’s son, Barry, the current owner. He describes his father and Davis as “Mutt and Jeff; they’re hilarious. They sit down and talk about everything … it’s two men who have a lot of love for each other.”
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Living nearby on Broadway while teaching film at the Cornish School in the 1970s, I remember Joe and Bernie well, and their hamburgers. In 1970, the humorist and Times restaurant reviewer John Hinterberger described how, “About 200 people streamed out of the Harvard Exit [movie theater], turned right and many streamed into the Deluxe Tavern; adjacent buildings with a symbiotic relationship.”
The still-charmed and cosmopolitan neighborhood of Capitol Hill will, I figure, forever thank Joe, Bernie and Barry for “about everything,” including their burly and buttered baked potatoes.