The 5 Point Cafe Turns 85

Seattle —Next week local patrons will have another reason to raise a glass to the best working class bar in the business. Known for stirring up stories, getting people talking, and good no frills food and drinks- The 5 Point Cafe in Belltown turns 85 this week. In celebration, the bar that prides itself on “alcoholics serving alcoholics since 1929” will offer specials with old school prices all week long. The celebration will take place each day for the week of June 30- July 4th:

Monday, June 30th, (4pm -10 pm) – 25¢ Hamburgers
Tuesday, July 1st (4 pm-10 pm) – 10¢ Beers
Wednesday , July 2nd (6am – 10am)- 50¢ 2 Eggs, Hash Browns, Toast
Thursday, July 3rd (4pm-10pm) – $1 Whiskey Shots
Friday , July 4th (4pm -10 pm) – 35¢ Blue Plate Special

The 5 Point is located at 415 Cedar Street in Seattle. It’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is online at www.the5pointcafe.com.

History of The 5 Point Cafe

Preston Smith and his wife Frances met at Mannings Café on 4th Avenue in the 1920s. He worked his way into management, and she worked in the bakery, until both quit to start The 5 Point Cafe on July 1, 1929. At the end of Prohibition in the 1930s, Preston secured a beer license and business boomed- at one point he was selling 75 kegs of beer a day. “I made my first million selling ten-cent drinks of beer for a nickel,” recounts Smith. “Back then The 5 Point was where the ordinary man would eat a dime sandwich and drink a nickel cup of coffee.”

Surviving during the Depression Era wasn’t a “bowl of cherries.” Mr. Smith remembers the price of doing business- like when the local policeman came by and asked for a little kickback. “The Sergeant on the beat always wanted a $20 dollar bill when he shook hands with me,” he recounts.

In 1975, Preston’s son Dick Smith took over the family business. Dick kept Preston’s method of large portions for good prices going, but also made The 5 Point legendary by pulling off all sorts of stunts. He helped lead the successful political opposition to the Seattle Common and started the odd bumper sticker campaign against bicycles – giving out thousands of “Bicyclists and Freeloaders” stickers. He famously installed a periscope in the men’s room with a clear view of the Space Needle, which is now in almost every guidebook on Seattle. He rigged up a rooftop faucet to water the sidewalk and discourage the transients who loitered in front of The 5 Point.

From using $3,000 of his own money to build a somewhat illegal children’s park on a vacant lot at 3rd & Bell to hiring waitresses to wear bikinis and roller skates and plug expiring parking meters in the neighborhood, leaving a flyer on the windows letting them know they were saved a parking ticket courtesy of The 5 Point- Dick always kept people talking.

In 2009, Dave Meinert took over ownership and is doing his best to keep the press stunts coming- banning Google Glass and fighting the city much like Smith did for decades. He’s also been able to turn The 5 Point back into the thriving business it was in the ’90s while maintaining huge portions of value priced comfort food and stiff drinks in a relaxed atmosphere that will always hark back to real working class Seattle.

Written by Charles

Charles Koh founded EatSeattle, and has continued to use his expertise as editor-in-chief to guide the website’s growth over the last five years. Koh’s experience focuses on digital marketing and social media, and has been a part of several companies, some of which he created, specializing in both areas over the course of his career. Koh was previously with Google and Zagat where he helped expand and grow communities worldwide.

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