By Lauri Watkins
Oh, Charlie’s. For so long I have been writing this in my head, meaning to tell you how much you mean to me *before* your demise was imminent. But alas, time has sped up in our neighborhood. Last Tuesday night, I was sitting in a front both with my visiting mom, talking about how I had a bad feeling your days were numbered so I was trying to come by as often as I could – two hours later, news of your departure came up in my feed.To tell you everything you’ve meant to me is to tell the entire story of my nearly 16 years in Seattle. Charlie’s, you have literally been there at every stage of my adult life – from my early 20s when I was newly arrived in town, knew no one, and wasn’t sure how to find a job or meet new people, to now, when I am well established in my home, work, and community, and come in with my son for Sunday brunch or in the evenings for meetings.
You have witnessed every major beginning and ending in my life in Seattle. I’ve kissed new dates in the back booths, and jumped into major new responsibilities by accepting the reins of the small theater I’d been volunteering for (complete with the handover of the theater’s financial records in the back bar!). I sat in those same booths hollow-eyed after the sudden death of an ex-boyfriend I wasn’t yet over, and been there again talking a friend through escape from a domestic violence situation, sitting there listening to one side of the conversation with the police, wracking my brain and legal contacts for ways to help.
I’ve nursed my infant son in the comforting privacy of your tall front booths, and sat writing alone on slow nights over decaf coffee and a laptop furtively plugged in next to the often-blinking lamp sitting on the table (you never seemed to mind – though I’m sorry I didn’t ask.)
When Burt Clemans, beloved bartender of the now-long-departed Jade Pagoda, set off to join his partner in Dayton, we threw his going-away party in the bar (picture attached). Some scandalous doings may have occurred that night in the pool room. They may have involved an amateur stripper (pictures most definitely NOT included!)
Stumbling in after cast parties. Stumbling in after rough nights, rough mornings. Walking home from Charlie’s with my three-year old after we had brunch with a man I was dating after my divorce, realizing that I was walking along Broadway in a bedraggled pair of slippers, and having to face the fact that I was stretched far too thin. Slowing life down, coming back better-rested and in actual shoes, and seeing Purple Mark and his regular Sunday brunch group in the front room.
I’ve brought my dad and my mom and countless out-of-town visitors through your doors. I’ve smoked inside and outside and finally quit (almost two years!) I’ve had the hard conversations and many many joyful ones. Your mozzarella sticks are the best in town :-)
You’ve hosted my son for every stage of his life, from my pregnancy to today – he’s almost seven, downright amazing, and loves your hash browns, though somehow he’s not a fan of your waffles!You’ve seen my tears and my excitement, shared my joy and my grief. Charlie’s, you are my oldest friend on Capitol Hill, and indeed in Seattle. I am going to miss the hell out of you.
And I am so, SO grateful for all the times we’ve had. Charlie’s, from the bottom of my heart,