Usually it's the drunks who sit at the bar and cry. But there was Jeff Price, the owner of the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, blinking back tears over a can of Diet 7UP. A week ago, he learned that he and his wife, Chris, had lost their lease on the ivy-covered 10th Avenue landmark after...
Usually it’s the drunks who sit at the bar and cry.
But there was Jeff Price, the owner of the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, blinking back tears over a can of Diet 7UP.
A week ago, he learned he and his wife, Chris, had lost their lease on the ivy-covered 10th Avenue East landmark after 15 years.
The news came the night before the bar’s anniversary party. The Prices were told their offer to pay what they believed was the market rate for the place (an average $16 per square foot) was turned down. And, since they could not afford to buy the building, they were out.
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“We have the feeling there was a plan in place,” was all Jeff Price would say.
They don’t know what the plans are for the Roanoke, whether it will stay a neighborhood bar or become “a God-awful, four-story condo with retail,” Price said. The owners declined to fill me in.
“People just can’t imagine it not being here,” Price said. “I don’t want to say it’s like Cheers, but I always knew it as one of the bars in Seattle like the Blue Moon, Teddy’s … “
Indeed, the tavern has been there since 1930 and became the Roanoke in 1981. That longevity carries some weight when you consider that Tidbit, a bistro one block south, has been six or eight different places in 15 years — and is changing hands again.
“The Roanoke is the kind of place that if you left Seattle for five years and came back, it would still be here,” Price said.
Well, at least until July 31, when the lease expires.
It seems that businesses here are almost too disposable. That it doesn’t matter if they’ve been here since the Pilots played Sicks’ Stadium, or if people are comforted just seeing it there.
It should matter that your pingpong tables were made by the folks at the Center for Wooden Boats. And that the place has the kind of work culture that resulted in three staff marriages.
“It shouldn’t be about the money,” Chris Price said. “It’s about the people. So what if you make a little less every month?”
Tamara Wilson, who ran the Roanoke years ago and now does public relations for a number of local restaurants, lamented the loss of one more piece of Seattle’s sudsy history.
“There has been big turnover in town,” she said. “It’s sad. What do people value now, more than the local pub where you can hang out with your neighbors?
Chris Price, who works in commercial real estate, has been checking new property listings every day, but bar-spaces move pretty fast. Goldy’s on 45th? Someone snapped that up. The Tiger Tail on 65th? The next-door neighbor is expanding in.
Well, there’s the Lusty Lady, I said, another institution closing its doors. You could open up there and maybe serve your Wednesday night $1 tacos and PBRs in those little booths.
“I should look into that,” Chris Price said, trying to laugh. But like her husband before her, she teared up, too.
Reaction to the pending end has been soothing. A woman Chris Price never met started a Roanoke Park Place Tavern fan page on Facebook that got 371 members in 24 hours. (“Amazing,” said Chris Price, who signed on as the page’s administrator.)
She will especially miss the Tuesday night “Stitch ‘n Bitch” group in the backroom: Beer, yarn and whatever ails ya.
Jeff Price won’t miss the wood-fronted refrigerator that looks great but destroys compressors (“The bane of my existence”).
But he will miss the people, the staff, the fact that his Roanoke schedule allows him to drop his kids off at school every day.
The phone rang. It was the alumni director from nearby Seattle Prep. The school had booked two big parties at the Roanoke for later this summer. St. Joe’s had a reunion planned there for August.
“We will be closed by then,” he said into the phone. “No idea … Yeah … I know.”
He hung up, sat back down at the bar and rubbed his eyes again.
“We have great friends.”
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or email@example.com.
They even have Manny’s on tap.