• Spud Fish & Chips up for landmark status, but that could close Green Lake business

    By: Ashli Blow, KIRO 7 News Digital Producer

    Updated:

    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 may actually save — rather than end — a small family business.

    >>  Related: List of beloved Seattle businesses that have closed

    Spud Fish & Chips has served up delicious hand-cut cod, fried food and chowder in the Green Lake community for decades. Over the 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.

    Now the city of Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board is considering a landmark status application for the building, but that's 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.

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    "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."

    Image: Seattle's Landmark Preservation Board via The Johnson Partnership's application.

    The landmark status application comes 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.

    Seattle's Landmark Preservation Board will hold its first meeting for public comment on Wednesday at 3 p.m. If Spud's gets a landmark status, then the developers are at the will of the city of Seattle, which would control any changes that happen.

    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.

    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.

    Image: Seattle's Landmark Preservation Board via The Johnson Partnership's application.

    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 up-swept roofs, boomerang shapes and large plate windows.

    The Green Lake location is one of four Spud restaurants, which are all owned by three separate entities; one including Ivar's Restaurants, which bought the Alki location in the late '90s. Cordova-Smith bought the Green Lake business in 2001, and she and Criag Smith sold the land and business last year to Blueprint Capital that same year.

    "Spud's has a special place in the hearts of many of our customers who have frequented our business over the years and that is something that we cherish and do not take lightly," Spuds wrote on its Facebook after the sale. " We want you to know that Spud Fish and Chips Greenlake is still open and we do not plan on closing any time soon. Thank you for the many years of laughter and memories and here's to many more to come."


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