In the year 1888, Washington Territory became a state of the union and in 1889 Seattle suffered the “great fire.” Early pioneers began to rebuild Pioneer Square and in April of 1892 Mr. Thomas Watson opened The Central, then known as Watson Bros. Famous Restaurant. In 1901 Mr. Watson sold the business to Messrs. Jamison and McFarland who renamed it “The Seattle Bar.”
These were the gold rush years. Yukon miners sought out The Central for its famous kitchen and honest bar. Times were good-so good that in 1903 Jamison and McFarland opened a second establishment two doors North: The J&M Hotel and Saloon.
Land deed records show that after the turn of the century, in 1907, The Central was sold to Messrs. Master and Casey. Adding to the history of miners and Alaskan adventurers came the loggers and the sailors. Seattle became the Pacific terminus for the Great Northern Railway. Northwest timber and fish traveled by rail to the East while wind-powered ships plied the Pacific and the soon to be opened Panama Canal. Seattle became a major Pacific seaport. In 1919 the saloon was renamed The Central Cafe.
As the seaport expanded and the cargoes were loaded for distant ports, The Central became in it’s time, a cafe, a post office, an employment hall, a card room and bar, and a brothel. The dumbwaiter that served the downstairs brothel is still here on the north wall. When Henry Yesler’s lumber mill shut down and “skid road” became known more for its bawdy bars and red-light hotels, Pioneer Square became the refuge of winos, dinos, dingbats and the occasional aristocrat.
In 1970, Bob Foster and Jamie Anderson, two young Boeing engineers, purchased “The Central Tavern.” Seattle’s “radical chic” had found a home and a just cause. Since that time more buildings have been saved than lost and in the mid-70’s Seattle’s Pioneer Square was declared a National Historical District. Many of Mayor Wes Ulhman’s staff would meet on a daily basis at The Central to plan the city’s future. The tavern’s draw and fame was so great that one patron, J. J. “Tiny” Freeman was able to run a congressional campaign from the front table. He lost. Seattle’s “Fat Tuesday” was conceived here.
Music and new owners were added in the 1980s (including Angus Duke). Many of the rock-n-roll bands now known internationally for Seattle’s “grunge sound” first played to packed houses here at The Central.
In 1990 the present owners traded-in the status “tavern” for “saloon,” refurbished the bar and kitchen, and restored the hard liquor license, and continued with an eye to the tradition of quality food, liquor and congenial atmosphere.
On April 7th of 1992 The Central Saloon celebrated it’s 100th Anniversary. The governor of the State, Booth Gardner, declared April 7th “The Central Day” for the entire State of Washington. Now open 365 days a year, with the best live rock seven nights a week, we look forward to serving you.
Then as now, The Central Saloon is the place to be in Seattle.
Thank you for your patronage.