New Life, Future for SPUD Fish & Chips in Green Lake

April 11, 2018|Posted in: Green Lake News, Green Lake Restaurants, Restaurants and Bars

By Ashli Blow

 Another Seattle institution faces demolition to make way for an apartment building, but in a rare twist of the many stories of rapid city development, it will actually save — rather than end — a small family business.

Spud Fish & Chips has served up delicious hand-cut cod, fried food and chowder in the Green Lake community for decades. Brothers Jack and Frank Alger opened the business in Green Lake in 1959, nearly two decades after opening their first location on Alki Beach, with the philosophy that the price of fried fish shouldn’t cost more than a hamburger.

Fast forward to last summer, the news came that the butterfly-roofed restaurant would be torn down for apartments, though the beloved fish-and-chips shack would continue operation on the first floor of that new four-story facility.

But then the city of Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board considered a landmark status application for the building; it was not all good news for those holding onto hope that a piece of old Seattle can be protected.

“If it is deemed a landmark, we’d have to close our doors,” said 55-year-old owner Pamela Cordova-Smith.

Cordova-Smith worked her way up in the business, starting at the restaurant at 14. After decades of service at Spud’s in Green Lake, she’s facing a crossroads: With minimum wage increases and health care, the much-needed $1 million in renovations isn’t realistic. Selling the property to Blueprint Capital Services LLC and settling into a multi-use space would provide an affordable option for new equipment and sustaining the small family business.

“People think ‘you have a small business, you’re rich. No actually you work a lot of hours, but we love our area and our customers,” Cordova-Smith told KIRO 7. “I feel like if the [landmark preservation board] talked to us, they’d know that our customers are happy for us.”

The landmark status application came from a filing by The Johnson Partnership as part of Blueprint Capital Services LLC’s building permit process. Applying for a permit involves writing a historical report on the property; when the city of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods reviewed that report, the department determined that it needed to be nominated and considered as a landmark.

According to The Johnson Partnership’s application, Spud’s building was “landmark eligible” because of its business contribution and building design in the history of the Woodland Park and Green Lake area.

Their building’s mid-century design came from the mind of architect Edward Cushman, known for his architecture work on commercial buildings throughout the area. Historians believe that the building’s googie architecture highlights an era of cutting-edge art in the 1960s. The “googie” style includes characteristics of upswept roofs, boomerang shapes and large plate-glass windows.

But despite all these features, the building didn’t make the cut for a landmark, keeping the restaurant in business.

“All approved, this will be the last summer in our home built in 1960s,” the owners wrote on the Facebook. “We will be closed for about one year then reopen in our newly built home in the exact same spot. As the weather warms we hope all of our Spud friends and family come to revisit memories and send good wishes to our shiny new future.”

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