I worked there when it was the Alki Homestead owner by Mrs. Nelson and her pink Mercedes, WA lic#HOOPTDO . I started as a dishwasher at 14yo in about 1988 then worked my way up to cooking their famous pan fried chicken. Ben was the cook and Suzy was one of the waitresses, who later worked at Spiro’s when it shut down. RIP Mrs. Nelson. Smoke em while you got em.
Welcome to the
‘Virtual Chicken Dinner’!
Now that the 1904 building known first as Fir Lodge and (since 1950) the Alki Homestead is being restored by new owner Dennis Schilling, it’s time to bring out our memories of special evenings, occasions and meals — including the family-style fried-chicken dinners. Please share your stories of the Alki Homestead on this, our “Virtual Chicken Dinner” page!
What do you remember about the Homestead? When were you there? Who were you with? Was it a birthday? A wedding? And please share your special photos and videos that recall your time at the Homestead.
Top Ten list about Doris Nelson and the Alki Homestead, as recalled by an old friend
- Mrs. Nelson was an elegant and hardworking woman who preserved the ambiance of the building using turn-of-the-century furniture at the Alki Homestead restaurant. She used elegant, beautiful place settings.
- The restaurant served several-course meals that would include hors d’oeuvres, salad, soup, biscuit, main course and dessert to die for. The fried chicken was a specialty. During the early years, dinner cost around $6.
- Mrs. Nelson employed young people from West Seattle High School who worked as busboys and dishwashers. She gave jobs to a lot of boys and girls in West Seattle.
- Mrs. Nelson was fun-loving. She enjoyed dancing. She also had a wonderful sense of humor.
- It was hard to carry food from the kitchen because of the way the house was built (i.e., small rooms), but Mrs. Nelson adhered to the structure and architecture of the house.
- Mrs. Nelson loved to garden. She had a beautiful patio.
- Mrs. Nelson lived upstairs. She had an apartment there until she bought a condominium.
- Mrs. Nelson used the restaurant for parties, wedding receptions, birthdays and even funeral receptions. Sometimes three generations of the same family would come to enjoy the food and ambiance of an elegant, turn-of-the-century restaurant.
- Mrs. Nelson traveled, but most of the time she was at the restaurant greeting guests and customers.
- Mrs. Nelson drove a pink Mercedes(?) with a license plate “WHOOP TI DO.”
What do you remember about Doris Nelson or the Alki Homestead? Please share your memories with us!
Memories shared by: Mark Reilly
I, too, worked there in the ’50s. In fact, although memory is a bit foggy after all this time, it was likely that Scott helped me get the dishwashing job since we were good friends and neighbors. The minimum wage back then was $1.10. Bob Gruye’s stepson, Joe Webster, was the salad and dessert man, probably getting another $0.25 cents an hour…..a big deal in those days.
A very popular dessert was “Caramel” with whipped cream. This was made by boiling sweetened condensed milk in the can for several hours. Once cooled, both ends of the can were opened, and a portion (it was now solid) was pushed out and sliced off. Today we would call this “dulce de leche.”
Another thing I remember was that once a year the logs needed to be oiled. All of us would do this work on a Saturday morning.
Memories shared by: Martha Fegan
I always loved going to the Homestead Restaurant. It was more than just dinner- it was more of a special event like Thanksgiving or a holiday. I remember Doris Nelson greeting guests and the lovely atmosphere there. With the antiques and oil paintings on the walls, there was always something nice to look at around …Read More.
Memories shared by: Kippy Alexander
I became friends with Mrs. Nelson as her FedEx courier from 1990 thru 1999. I delivered much of the trinkets and decor that she ordered for both the restaurant and her personal residence. She was very concerned about the dangers for a young woman my size carrying such heavy boxes. With each order, she looked …Read More.
Memories shared by: Scott Devry
I worked at the Alki Homestead Restaurant in the late 1950’s. At that time, Adele Foote was the owner, and Rob Gruye was the chef. I started out as a busboy when I was about 15 years old. I worked my way up to dishwasher, then to making salads/desserts, and some cooking. I fondly remember …Read More.
Memories shared by: Clay Eals
Over the years since our founding in 1984, the Alki Homestead was the venue for several major gatherings of our historical society, none more memorable than our Saturday, Nov. 12, 1994, Annual Meeting, a portion of which is depicted in this video clip. That morning, we packed the Alki Homestead dining rooms and were treated …Read More.