The 5 Point Cafe

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The 5 Point Cafe
A single story building with a sign that reads "The 5 Point Cafe" and a plaza on a rainy day
The 5 Point on a rainy Seattle day
Restaurant information
Established 1929
Street address 415 Cedar St
City Seattle
State Washington
Postal code/ZIP 98121
Country United States

The 5 Point Cafe is a bar and 24-hour cafe and bar in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. It is located by Tilikum Place near a five-way intersection. Open since 1929, it is considered the oldest drinking establishment in the neighborhood. It has received accolades from local media for being one of the best dive bars in the city.


The building was originally constructed by the Webb Investment Company in 1922 for use as a dairy warehouse. It was built in what was known as the Denny Regrade, named after a project to flatten Denny Hill. C. Preston Smith opened the cafe during an economic downturn in 1929. Coffee, two eggs, a ham steak, hashbrowns, and four pieces of buttered toast with jelly cost 40 cents.[1] Smaller dishes were 25 cents or less. A barroom was opened adjacent to the cafe upon the repeal of prohibition in 1933 to sell beer and wine. It became a lounge when state law allowed for the sale of hard liquor in 1944.[2]

Smith's son, Dick, took over in 1975.[3] Along with political activities in the neighborhood, the younger Smith was known for installing a periscope over the men's room urinal to provide views of the Space Needle.[4][5]

The 5 Point Cafe made headlines in August 2004 when radio personality Tom Leykis was ejected and then assaulted outside. Leykis said his assailant kicked him in the head and knocked him to the ground. He was cut above the eye and needed 17 stitches.[2][6]

In September 2009, it was rumored that The 5 Point would be closing.[4] In November 2009, it was purchased by David Meinert. He has changed little but the menu was expanded slightly with vegetarian options.[7]

The 5 Point made headlines when it became Seattle's first establishment to publicly ban Google Glass during the product's initial developmental release.[8]

The bar again received attention in October 2014 when rock star Tom Morello was denied entry late on a busy evening. Morello used Twitter to criticize the poor customer service of the doorman and the owner's stance on worker's rights. Meinert had previously been strongly opposed to a Seattle ordinance mandating a $15 minimum wage but responded to the accusation by citing the cafe's relatively higher pay, paid time off, health insurance, and retirement plans for his staff.[9]


File:5 Point Cheating Sign.jpg
A neon side at the cafe and bar

The 5 Point Cafe serves large portions of traditional American food and stiff drinks at inexpensive prices. Located in what is now an affluent neighborhood, it has historically catered to working class and eclectic patrons. Brassieres dangle from a stuffed moose head and there is a juke box with an expansive collection.[2][7][10]

The cafe has been called one of the best dive bars in the world by the alternative weekly newspaper The Stranger.[11] It has been voted "Best Dive Bar" in Seattle several times by Seattle Magazine.[12]

The younger Smith installed quirky signs throughout the location. Before Washington banned smoking in restaurants and bars, the cafe touted it as smoker-friendly with a sign that read: "Smokers welcome, non-smokers beware".[13] Other signs have slogans such as "We cheat tourists-n-drunks since 1929"[14] and "Alcoholics Serving Alcoholics since 1929".[4]


  1. "Good Old Prices". The Bulletin. Bend, OR. July 5, 1979. p. 11. Retrieved April 17, 2010. [dead link]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Jaffe, Elisa. "Historic cafe to offer 1929 prices". KOMO News. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  3. Humphrey, Clark (2007). Seattle's Belltown. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 978-0-7385-4816-6. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Leson, Nancy (December 1, 2009). "5 Point Cafe celebrates 80 years with new owners". The Seattle Times. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  5. Clement, Bethany Jean (July 14, 2009). "The Five Point Cafe: It's a Dive and It's Good". The Stranger. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  6. "Seattle man arrested in Leykis assault". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. September 2, 2004. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bonow, Elaine (November 25, 2009). "The First Family of Belltown". Belltown Messenger. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  8. Bishop, Todd (2013-03-08). "No Google Glasses allowed, declares Seattle dive bar". Retrieved 2015-12-25. 
  9. Nelson, Sean (2014-09-30). "Tom Morello Rages Against 5 Point Cafe After Being Denied Service - Slog - The Stranger". Retrieved 2015-12-25. 
  10. Leson, Nancy (December 1, 2009). "5 Point trip down memory lane: he's been there, seen that". The Seattle Times. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  11. Jean, Bethany (2009-07-16). "Bar Exam - Food & Drink". The Stranger. Retrieved 2015-12-25. 
  12. "Seattle Magazine | Restaurants | Best Seattle Restaurants 2011: Readers' Choice Winners". 2011-03-19. Retrieved 2015-12-25. 
  13. Craft, Mathew (February 26, 2003). "Expanded smoking ban favored, poll shows". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 
  14. Robinson, Kathryn (May 7, 2004). "Get past the dive vibe, and you'll find good, homemade food". The Seattle Times. Retrieved April 17, 2010. 

External links

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