Creative Writing

Least-Lamented Landmarks of Old Seattle

A look at some recently demolished landmarks to which we didn’t mind saying goodbye.

As wide swaths of our cultural landscape are swept away to make room for the gleaming, vacant cubes of our new absentee landlords, we mourn the loss of those funky local institutions that made the city feel like home: rock clubs, corner stores, burrito joints. But what about the spots we won’t miss—those unloved places that nevertheless managed to survive for decades? Here’s a look at some recently demolished landmarks to which we didn’t mind saying goodbye.

This Delridge bowling alley, originally called Arnie’s Bowl-A-Rama, was renovated in 1995 to attract a younger clientele. Electric guitars decorated the walls and the PA blared hits from the hard-rockin’ heyday of Seattle music. Regulars called it “Staley Lanes.” Unfortunately the winds of culture shifted, leaving the Grunge-n-Bowl an embarrassingly earnest vestige of another era. It was kept afloat mostly by teens dabbling in ironic nostalgia and actual former members of local grunge bands. Last year it was converted into a data center for the Department of Defense.

Sid’s Paddlewheel Salmon Shack
Since 1967, tourists found their way to this grub pub near Fisherman’s Terminal in Interbay. With its kitschy maritime décor and crumbling façade complete with non-functioning waterwheel, every inch of the place screamed “Olde Seattle.” Unfortunately, its cooking equipment and sanitary standards also belonged to a bygone era. So many people got sick eating at Sid’s over the decades that locals called it “the Salmonella Shack.” This reputation stuck in the harsh light of the Internet age; Sid’s stomach-rumbling fried fare earned a regional record-breaking 347 one-star reviews on Yelp. The failing business enjoyed a brief bump in 2010 when a Deadliest Catch cast member tried to buy meth from an undercover cop in the men’s room, but it was too little, too late. In February the Shack was bulldozed to make room for a 3-D printing studio.

Fratelli’s Used Books
Fratelli’s Used Books was a longstanding U-District staple with a wide selection and generous trade-in rates, but its main attraction was the small tribe of cats that lived in the shop. People would visit just to pet the kitties. As Ed Fratelli got older he let their numbers get out of hand, doubling then quadrupling, until eventually the only business came from other cat nuts who were immune to the ammonia smell that permeated every book. As Fratelli grew more doddering the cats became more aggressive, ultimately taking over History/Philosophy, Fiction N-Z and, alarmingly, the entire children’s section. The shop was demolished the day after Ed’s 30-year lease ended and will soon be the new home of an experiential marketing firm specializing in virtual reality.