Central Tavern

207 1st Avenue S

Contemporary photo of Central Tavern
Central Cafe and Tavern, 1960
Poster for "The Central" featuring Soundgarden
The Central’s backbar, and bartender Douglas “Stringtie” Creson, 1990
Malfunkshun onstage, Central Tavern, July 3, 1986
Central Tavern sound man Jim Anderson (left) with Stone Gossard, guitarist with Mother Love Bone and Pearl Jam

Among the early businesses to rise from the ashes of the Great Seattle Fire was the Watson Bros. Famous Restaurant, which opened in April 1892. At the time Pioneer Square was overrun by seamen, sailors, railway men, loggers, and thousands of miners on their way to or from the Alaska and Yukon Gold Rushes. In 1901 Tommy Watson sold the venue to a Mr. Jamison and his partner Mr. McFarland, who renamed it the Seattle Bar. In 1907 Mr. Master and Mr. Casey bought the Seattle Bar and in 1919 it was recast as the Central Café.

Later, it suffered neglect (like most of Pioneer Square), until two Boeing engineers (Bobby Foster and Jamie Anderson) saw its historical significance and bought it in 1970. Much later, after countless rock and blues bands had mounted its small stage, and under the ownership of Angus Duke and others, the Central Tavern would play a key role in the rise of Grunge Rock. As early as 1986 a young Seattle band named Soundgarden performed here, as did Diamond Lie (pre-Alice In Chains) in 1987. Nirvana made its Seattle debut here in April 1988, and on March 9, 1990, Mother Love Bone (pre-Pearl Jam) played its final show here. In 1990 it was redubbed the Central Saloon. Two years later, Washington Governor Booth Gardner declared April 7, 1992, to be the state’s official “The Central Day.”

Backtrack to S Washington Street and turn left, toward the waterfront.

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