Bottomfeeder: The Sixth Avenue Bar & Grill's Aged Glory

Generic is the new unique at a motor-inn lounge.

Thirty years ago, nobody would have referred to the Sixth Avenue Bar & Grill as a classic Seattle eatery, if they referred to it at all. It's long been simply the lounge attached to the Sixth Avenue Inn, and its decor and menu are as generically cozy as that of any restaurant of its ilk that's ever thawed poultry. But while a long line of restaurants like the Sixth Avenue Inn have existed, very few still exist. There just aren't many motor inns in big-city downtowns anymore, and fewer still which have a respectable lounge. So the Sixth Avenue Bar & Grill becomes an interesting case study, a dining and drinking establishment that transforms from unoriginal to unique simply by outlasting its peers. Like all hotel lounges, the Sixth Avenue Bar & Grill offers its patrons the escapist excitement of anonymity: the ability to be, for however long he or she occupies a barstool, whoever he or she wants to be, true or not. This applies not only to hotel guests, but to locals. To wit, on a recent Thursday afternoon around 2, a metrosexual man in a suit and designer eyeglasses who looked to be in his 30s came in from the cold and ordered a whiskey, neat, with a Heineken back. He said nothing to anybody, other than to instruct the bartender to keep his tab open, indicating that he'd be staying for a while. He didn't look distraught, like he'd just lost his job; nor did he look like he'd just closed a big deal. The only certain thing was that he needed to drink in solitude—to collect his thoughts, or possibly cloud them into obsolescence. Yet another table, one packed with septuagenarians, revealed the Sixth Ave. as a place that can accommodate regulars as adroitly as customers it won't see until next year's trade show. It's not the food that's spectacular—the Yankee pot roast was merely OK, although the mashed potatoes and gravy were great, because mashed potatoes and gravy nearly always are. It's the service—the Sixth Ave. is known for having about the friendliest waitstaff in town. The restaurant's employees actually seem to love what many would consider a dead-end job, which nowadays is as rare as the space they work in. mseely@seattleweekly.com

 
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