Thursday, October 23, 2008

All roads once led to The Dog House


If you've read some of my small town diner reviews, you've probably realized I have a soft spot in my heart for the greasy food and Americana nostalgia that gets served up in these fine establishments. Even in the big cities of this wonderful country a few holdouts remain that hearken back to an era long gone. This time I turn your attention to one of those establishments that is now long gone from Seattle, but still, is fondly remembered by many...

The Dog House (also known as Bob Murray's Dog House) was a Seattle institution for nearly 60 years. This lead photo is of some friends of mine hanging out drunk out front on an excursion there one night in 1985. For 24 hour diner food downtown in the '80s, and I presume the couple decades before it, The Dog House was the place.

The Dog House was located at 2230 7th Ave, the corner of 7th and Bell. The Hurricane Cafe now operates in the original building, and the outside appearance really hasn't drastically changed. It was built in 1940 and originally housed a paint store called General Paints, but in 1954 the building began down the path of serving up hot meals to hungry Seattle citizens when it reopened as Clark's Restaurant. In 1958, a restaurant called Bob Murray's Dog House relocated over from Aurora Avenue to the space and a Seattle legend was born (or continued, it sounds like the original log cabin-style restaurant on Aurora was pretty popular, although I can't find much information on it). Here's a great picture from the UW photo archives of the original Dog House from 1938, and here's what it first looked like at the 7th and Bell location:









This is a scan of the menu, circa the early '90s (courtesy of John Hubbard):



























Here's my friend Sarah back in the '80s holding the menu when we were grabbing some late night grub:


For goth, punk and club kids, The Dog House was just a few blocks away from Skoochies (which later became The Oz and Club Amp) and City Beat, so it was a spot people would hit before or after a night of clubbing (or drug buying/selling). Check out the cool '60s chairs behind my friends playing around with their french fries:

Somewhere I have some more photos of the organ player, waitresses and inside, when I dig them up I'll scan them in too. When you'd go to the Dog House you were always guaranteed a few things: lots of cheap diner food often with dog-themed names (like the Mutt Burger), a wide variety of clientele, drunk singing and organ playing in the bar, and old-school waitresses with names like Ethel and Bernice. Good times! In college in the early '90s we'd go into the bar area because they were a little slack on IDing people. Older guys around the bar would buy our girlfriends drinks, Dick Dickerson would be playing the organ, and everyone would sing along. It was almost like some David Lynchian timewarp back to a time long gone--with a vintage '50s styled diner (one actually from that time, rather than a modern one made to look that way) and a bar and clientele that seemed to have been beamed in from 1965. And you know what? As young people getting to experience this little slice of Americana mostly long-gone, we loved it!

The Dog House closed it's doors January 31st, 1994. And while The Hurricane opened a few years later in it's place, I just haven't had the heart to visit it, I want to keep my memories of hanging out in the old restaurant pure, for it was one of the last vestiges of old Seattle to go, an era that gave way from unique and original businesses to Starbuck's and other chains throughout the more modern city.

5 comments:

howardx said...

skoochies hahaha man we hated that place!

John W. Hubbard said...

Nice write up. I forgot about Skoochies. Geez. The Doghouse was where I drank my first cup of coffee (that I liked). Used to go there after punk rock shows, stay until the wee hours. At one point I lived in a warehouse with friends a few blocks away (9th and Terry) and we hung out at The Doghouse at all hours. I really miss that place. It was such a diverse mix of people, old and young. Our favorite waitress (Marge) had waited on Frank Zappa & The Mothers back in 1966!

Les Chaps said...

Loved the Doghouse for all the reasons here listed. In the late 80s we'd head there after rockabilly/punk shows down in Pioneer Square because some of us were too young to drink in those places that carded all the time. Later, I lived on 9th and Virginia (neighbors, I would guess, of Mr. Hubbard) and relied heavily on the services of the Doghouse. An old friend of mine's grandmother was a waitress there for decades ...

scott said...

This is awesome! My grandmother, Laurie Gulbransen, owned the Dog House up until it closed. I spent every holiday morning there. I didn't live nearby and was 19 when it closed, so I never got a chance to appreciate the great aftershow atmosphere I always read about after the fact.

Greg said...

The best after hours place in the world - lounge lizards, punks, goths, yuppies, hippies and just about everything in between - all sitting next to each other. Marge in her beehive. The $4.95 ribeye steak - Tenderness not Guaranteed (per the menu), and they were right on! Too bad it's passed on, I'll never forget it.