Historic South Downtown Oral Histories: Menache Israel Recalls Businesses on the Central Waterfront in the 1940s and 1950s

  • Posted 7/21/2015
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 11089

Menache Israel (b. 1922), whose father, Isaac Israel, owned Butler Dye Works at 1st Avenue and James Street, and who later owned Central Office Supply at 2nd Avenue and James Street, spent his whole career in Pioneer Square. He was interviewed in March 2015 as part of a project HistoryLink did in partnership with Historic South Downtown to document the historical connections between the Chinatown-International District and Pioneer Square neighborhoods and the central waterfront. Dominic Black talked with Israel about the businesses he remembered on the central waterfront.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop and Ivar’s

You know where it [Ye Olde Curiosity Shop] is now is not the original location, I think it’s further south towards where Waterfront Fish was. Not that far south but in that area, yeah. In fact, I don’t know if you remember, for a while there was a fancy restaurant on a dock -- a Polynesian type joint? Remember that? That was in between Colman Dock and Yesler. 

Of course the other connection I had with the waterfront: Ivar’s. You know what it’s like now -- have you been to Ivar’s? OK, the old Ivar’s was not like that at all. The old Ivar’s had fishing gear hanging from the ceiling -- all kinds of stuff. The Japanese glass balls that used to float over, hanging from the ceiling. Now it’s too classy. I liked the old one much better, it was much more interesting, people, you know "Oh gee, look at all that … ."

And he had a lunch menu on weekdays -- I’m not joking. I knew some guys that worked on First Avenue, we’d go there for lunch at least one day a week, sometimes twice. Because the lunch menu would have spaghetti, liver and onions, non-fish things that you could order for lunch, and it wasn’t a real high price.

 Anyway, that was Ivar’s.  

Fish Companies

At the foot of Yesler there was a fish company, Waterfront Fish it was called. It was started by a Sephardic Jewish guy from Turkey named Solomon Calvo -- he started that business and then his sons ran it after, you know.

Then also on the waterfront there was Palace Fish, which was, I don’t know, maybe one dock north of Colman Dock. I don’t remember exactly. And that was started by a Sephardic Jewish guy from the Isle of Rhodes, last name Alhadeff, and he had two places.

He had Palace Fish and then, I believe where Colman Dock is or right next door, there was another fish place called Grand -- I think it was called Grand Trunk -- I don’t remember exactly. It was run by a brother of the guy who started Palace Fish.

The whole point there was, one brother got into this business and he brought the rest of his family into the business and they did quite well. In fact Palace Fish at one time was sold to Safeway and they couldn’t use the name Palace any more.

Which reminds me -- there was another fish company. It was a Japanese company that was on the waterfront but I can’t remember where the location was, but when the war came along they closed up, they were closed up.


Dominic Black interview with Menache Israel, March 2015.

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