Before Alki Spud celebrates its 75th tomorrow, a chat with Carol

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Tomorrow morning, the longtime manager of Spud Fish and Chips on Alki will be at work before dawn.

They’re expecting quite the lunch rush – almost certainly a line, despite the fact it’ll be a Wednesday in autumn. The occasion? Spud turns 75 years old (and is sponsoring WSB to promote the occasion) – and throwing a party.

Manager Carol Kelly – at right with daughters Ashley and Tory, who were on duty with her there when we chatted Monday afternoon – has worked at Spud on Alki for about half the restaurant’s three-quarters-of-a-century lifespan … almost 38 years.

Just kind of happened that way, she explains – she graduated from West Seattle High School, and other members of her family were already working at Spud. “I really like working with the public … and it’s such a well-established place. … I enjoy it down here.”

Quite the view, of course, since from behind the counter – inbetween rushes – you can look right out at Alki Beach and Elliott Bay.

Tomorrow, the view will feature a lot of people, pomp and circumstance, and prizes.

The first 75 in line when Spud opens at 10:30 am will get gift bags; the city will present a special commemoration at 10:15; and there’s a birthday special all day long, 1-piece fish and chips for $2.75, with $1 going to the West Seattle Food Bank (or $1.75 if you bring a nonperishable food donation – bins’ll be set up by the doors and register, Carol says); other prizes and fun stuff too, including marimba music by the Seattle ensemble Nyamuziwa, 11 am-2 pm.

As part of the anniversary celebration, Spud is about to start an essay contest, asking people to tell their stories – Carol says she’s heard a lot of them over the years, and is hearing even more as the big day nears. “Like, ‘I came here when I was a baby’ – or, people will tell us that though they’ve moved away, if they fly in, the first place they come is down here (to Spud)!” (More about the essay contest tomorrow, part of a month-plus celebration that’ll follow the party; the online hub is Spud’s Facebook page.)

Carol has a few stories of her own, of course. Well-known customers over the years, including West Seattle-born Hollywood star Dyan Cannon, and sports stars like golf’s Fred Couples and football’s Matt Hasselbeck. And then there were the funny moments – like the employee years ago who thought it might be funny to add green food coloring for St. Patrick’s Day. Green beer might be great at a bar, but green fish at a restaurant? Well …

Tomorrow, though, like every other day, you’ll just see the golden-brown variety of fish and chips (the fries are from fresh potatoes), and other menu items like chicken (which Carol says is probably the most popular addition over the years). The team’s already been working extra-duty to get stocked up – making extra tartar sauce for example (yes, it’s made, and those little containers are filled, on site, Carol explains).

Not that she’s complaining. She’s smiling throughout our interview as she tells us about what has long been “THE place to work” – for several generations now: “Everybody knows Spud.”

18 Replies to "Before Alki Spud celebrates its 75th tomorrow, a chat with Carol"

  • Jim W. September 14, 2010 (12:10 pm)

    I’ll be there bright and early. Probably about 7:30/8am

  • moxilot September 14, 2010 (12:23 pm)

    Congrats, Spud! Whenever I have a hankering for fish and chips, I always find myself at your counter. Let’s see another 75!

  • RJB September 14, 2010 (12:37 pm)

    Here’s to Spuds!! See you tomorrow!!

  • Gina September 14, 2010 (1:00 pm)

    I miss ordering “A single with two fish.”

  • Lola September 14, 2010 (2:38 pm)

    Love Spuds. Have been going since I was a little kid. My son when he goes fishing will call me from the boat and asks me to bring him some spuds when he is out sometimes. We even sent him a Spud’s T-shirt over to Okinawa when he was a Marine.

    Happy 75th from the Duncan Clan of WS.

  • Suits are not boring September 14, 2010 (4:20 pm)

    I think I heard that Dow Constantine worked there years ago. They should bring him back for a day

  • Jessica September 14, 2010 (6:22 pm)

    I grew up eating at Spud (oh how I miss the non-carbonated Green River), and although my family now lives nearly 40 miles away, tomorrow we’ll make the trek down for dinner.

  • LouisLover September 14, 2010 (7:38 pm)

    The Spud wouldn’t be The Spud without Bonnie.
    How long as she worked for The Alki Spud?

  • chris September 14, 2010 (7:43 pm)

    My 86 year old dad is making the trek from Friday Harbor for this celebration. He worked there peeling potatoes for the Alger brothers. My Grandmother, Evelyn, ran the place for them during the war. Dad has a lot of stories to tell so I hope someone will record them. Go Spud!!

  • Steve September 14, 2010 (9:06 pm)

    Love Spuds (and happy anniversary!) but have to say the tarter is not my fave…much prefer the dill pickle tarter from Ivar’s to Spud’s take made with sweet pickles. How about stocking both?

  • Dow Constantine September 14, 2010 (9:34 pm)

    Suit: I did indeed work at “The Spud” back in the late 1970s! Ton of fun. Old Frank Alger, his son Rick, some sensible ladies of a certain age keeping the place grounded, and a bunch of rambunctious kids. Happy 75th! Hope to swing by some time tomorrow.

  • John S. September 14, 2010 (11:41 pm)

    Husky Deli and Spuds…the two main stays of West Seattle!

  • atemybuick September 15, 2010 (8:34 am)

    I’m with you Gina, single with two fish for me too!

  • Carol September 15, 2010 (9:06 am)

    My dad went to school with Frank Alger, and was one of SPUD’s earliest customers. Of course, he introduced SPUD to my mom, and when I came along, I got an early initiation. Mom and Dad told and retold the story of me, as a one-year-old, sitting on a blanket with my fish in one hand and baby bottle in the other!

  • alkisun September 15, 2010 (4:48 pm)

    I came to Alki as a child of 4 in 1938 and still the depression was going on. My first fish and chips was on the corner of 59th and Alki. $.25 single order. Attended Alki School and after each weekly piano lesson my family gave me the .25 to eat before walking home to Boniar Place. Lasting thought,,,never build big. Let folks wait outside to signal something good. Be consistant with product, and “plan throw away” into the price. Good job Spud.

  • BGJ September 15, 2010 (10:03 pm)

    If you are what you eat, then I am mostly Spud’s.

  • Living in West Seattle since 1985 September 15, 2010 (10:57 pm)

    Fish & Chips,You really can’t go wrong!, , , The fish war of Alki is still Alive and well!

  • Curious September 15, 2010 (11:35 pm)

    What was the “single with two fish?”. Here’s to another 75!

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