History museums often try to find ways to integrate the past into their cafes, putting traditional dishes on their menus and 19th-century prints on their walls. But the Compass Cafe at the Museum of History & Industry, which tomorrow celebrates its grand opening at Lake Union Park, has made its connection to Pacific Northwest history still more explicit by carving up one of the continent's biggest three-masted ships for its bar.
From 1897 to 1947, the Wawona worked the coast, hauling lumber, fishing for cod and ferrying military supplies. It served as an educational vessel in retirement, but plans to restore the schooner ultimately floundered, leading to the boat's deconstruction in 2009. Wood salvaged from the ship was used to build the museum's massive entryway sculpture, front desk and first-ever sit-down restaurant.
The menu for the 700-square foot cafe hasn't yet been finalized, but operator Northwest Catering anticipates a line-up of soups, sandwiches, salads, small plates and desserts. MOHAI spokesman Josh Mahar says the menu will feature local products which have "played their own role in shaping Seattle's history," including Macrina Bakery bread, Beecher's Handmade Cheese and Gerard and Dominique Smoked Salmon. And, in honor of MOHAI's new location, the dessert menu will include glazed sugar cookies emblazoned with compasses.
The cafe will initially be open only during museum hours, although the cafe was designed to draw diners from the greater neighborhood.
"We hope this will be a go-to place for workers and residents from around the neighborhood," Mahar says. "I mean, who wouldn't want to have a quick coffee meeting with views of the Space Needle out one window and the historic steamer, the Virginia V, outside the other?"
The Compass Cafe at MOHAI is open 10 a.m.- 5p.m., Friday-Wednesday, and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Thursdays.