Followup: Memories of West Seattle restaurateur Neal Saffer

After publishing an item Thursday night about the death of former Beach Drive restaurateur Neal Saffer, we heard from his daughter Diane, who shared the photo you see at right, along with a little more history about the restaurant her father ran for a quarter-century (the second paragraph was her response to a followup question):

My parents first moved to West Seattle in 1950. My grandparents, Waite and Crystal Quesnell, originally owned and operated the restaurant, and my parents Neal and Marge Saffer took it over the year of the Seattle World’s Fair.- Century 21. Over the years, many teenage boys had their first job at Quesnel’s and many of those young men continued to be lifelong friends of my parents. All the many waitresses have also become lifelong friends of my parents. My parents closed in February 1986 and was converted to living quarters, where my parents resided until 2004 when they moved to Port Orchard. …

Quesnel’s restaurant was at 4703 Beach Dr SW – the tall tan building on the water side of Beach Drive, at the foot of Jacobsen road. The restaurant was on the main floor, with bathrooms and storage & prep room in the basement, and we lived upstairs from the time I was 12 yrs old. In her later years, my grandma Crystal lived in the little house next door at 4701 Beach Dr until she passed away. The restaurant had a great view of the water, and the islands. It was a small, family dining room with 12 tables, and my dad cooked steaks on a charcoal broiler. There was a window at the charcoal broiler and people would look in and my dad would say hi to them when they first walked in the door. My mom was the hostess, and I began working there at 12 as a bus person, and later a waitress. They also owned The Shack Drive-In on Harbor Avenue and the grocery store next to it. Some West Seattle residents will remember those as well.

(That’s the same Shack from which Java Bean Coffee‘s sign came.) Mr. Saffer died last week of heart failure at age 86 and was buried Friday at Dignity/Forest Lawn east of High Point.

12 Replies to "Followup: Memories of West Seattle restaurateur Neal Saffer"

  • miws May 23, 2010 (10:26 pm)

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Diane, and condolences on your Dad’s passing.


    I remember Quesnel’s being there, and though I don’t recall any specific visits, my family most likely would have visited there in the ’60’s. I definitely remember visiting The Shack though, and wish it was still there.



  • JanS May 23, 2010 (10:52 pm)

    My ex-hubby worked at Quesnel’s when he was a teenager. I remember them having a walk up fish bar, too. You could order Fish and chips, or my fave, Prawns and Chips, and then sit on the grass along the water at the south end of what would be Emma Schmitz Park…and enjoy the meal.

    We had an anniversary dinner there once, too. I remember the pink…walls, and just about everything else :) Good steaks, too.

  • Marcia Ford May 24, 2010 (6:13 am)

    My condolences to Diane, and the entire family. Quesnell’s was part of the lore of West Seattle, with its pink walls, delicious food, and exceptional service.

  • Will o the wisp May 24, 2010 (8:36 am)

    I remember the fuzzy wall paper and the walk up Fish and Chips. The Homestead was the last of that era in operation that I remember. Thanks for the memories.

  • Will o the wisp May 24, 2010 (8:37 am)

    Why the name Quesnel’s?

  • Linda May 24, 2010 (8:54 am)

    Remember going there when I first moved to Alki in 1981. Was thinking I might have imagined it. I was newly in love at the time and thought it was so romantic there. Condolences to the family and thanks for the memories.

  • JanS May 24, 2010 (10:24 am)

    Will, it’s in the story. It was originally operated by Diane’s grandparents, whose last name was Quesnel.

  • ButterSon May 24, 2010 (10:25 am)

    Marcia, is that YOU? Like Nate and Kate’s Marcia? (Helen’s Bruce). My fam didn’t go OUT to eat much…but Mom sure did. I would tag along on errands because I knew there was likely to be a chocoate shake in it for me. I have memories of Quesnel’s as a landmark–more than eating there. The Shack, on the other hand, provided alot good cheeseburgers and school age memories.

  • Livingonthebeach May 24, 2010 (12:43 pm)

    What a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Rhonda Porter May 24, 2010 (4:10 pm)

    Very cool! I’ll post a link to this story on Beach Drive Blog–we’re often asked about what happened to that restaurant.

  • dawsonct May 24, 2010 (6:10 pm)

    A tip of the toque to a fellow chef.
    Sounds like a pretty ideal childhood, to me.

  • John Stuart May 25, 2010 (10:31 am)

    Hi Diane,

    I lived just down the street and remember working as a “fry cook” at Quesnel’s and The Shack while I was going to high school. Neal was a good person, sorry to hear that he passed on.

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