During the 1940s and 1950s in Seattle, Washington, Nick Zanides’ Crawford’s Sea Grill provided its guests with an upscale dining experience. It was not just the food but the atmosphere and hospitality that made Crawford’s a unique restaurant in Seattle.
The narrative below has been paraphrased from an article that appeared in WASHINGTON – Northwest Frontier in 1957 and from the 1957 Seattle Guide provided by Nick Zanides’ daughter Frances.
Nicholas Meena Zanides was born in Istanbul (Constantinople), Turkey, on April 25, 1888. He was the son of Meena and Helen (nee Stratios) Zanides both of whom were natives of Turkey but of Greek parentage. His mother died in 1900 at about the time Nicholas came to the United States. His father’s later years were ones of extreme hardship as Meena was exiled to Asia Minor by Turkish order at the time of World War I and died there after callous treatment and starvation. His son fully appreciated the privilege of living in a country free from strife with neighboring peoples. Over the years Nicholas made his way to a place among the Paciﬁc Northwest’s leading restaurateurs finally operating Crawford’s Sea Grill on Elliott Avenue West in Seattle.
He began his career in subordinate positions in hotels of the midwest and west coast. When Nicholas arrived in the United States at the age of 12, he joined his brother Stratius, who had come some years previously and was serving in the Navy. Stratius was subsequently killed in the explosion of the US Naval ship Scorpion during World War I.
Stratius sent his younger brother to Cleveland, Ohio, where an acquaintance operated a confectionery which provided young Nicholas with his ﬁrst job. He attended night school and learned English. At the age of 16, he went to work as a busboy at the Hollenden Hotel. From there he moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he took a similar position on the staff of the Congress Hotel. In 1905 he went to San Francisco, California, and became a waiter in the new Fairmont Hotel. The Fairmont was doomed to a brief existence as it was destroyed in the earthquake and fire of 1906. Nicholas was going to work the morning the catastrophe struck and narrowly escaped.
It appears he operated a popcorn wagon when he first came to Seattle and shortly thereafter began working as a waiter at the Rainier Grand Hotel This was a hostelry patronized by successful miners from the Klondike. When the public market was opened in 1908, Nicholas established a ﬁsh market there and, with the proﬁts which he carefully saved from this venture, was able to buy his ﬁrst small restaurant on July 5, 1910. This was the Boston Cafe located at 1110 Third Avenue. He concentrated on the continued growth of his enterprise, leveling an incline at the rear of his lot and enlarging the restaurant to seat 65 people. It became a favorite rendezvous for naval personnel. Nicholas befriended the sailors and was generous in his extension of credit but reports that he “never lost a nickel” because of this liberal attitude.
On April 27, 1923, in Seattle, Nicholas married Mary Ladas, daughter of Peter and Photini (nee Chamos) Ladas. Both of her parents were born in Greece, came to the United States about 1910 and settled in Washington, where Peter Ladas became a candy manufacturer and retailer. Nicholas and Mary had two children, Nicholas Jr. (deceased) and Frances Helen who resides in Seattle.
Zanides sold the Boston Cafe in 1937 and also the Marnex Drive-In Cafe at 6815 Roosevelt Way which he had acquired in 1935. He bought Crawford’s Sea Grill in 1937. This long-established restaurant had a sound reputation and became even more outstanding among Seattle eating places under his capable and experienced management.
In 1957 an extensive remodeling of Crawford’s was completed. Amenities included antique-looking copper wall paper, gold leaf on the main dining room walls near the ceiling and a new mural depicting coral and other forms of marine life in the smaller dining room. Unusual light fixtures appeared to climb up the wall on the stairs leading to the Coral Room lounge. That same year he was honored by the Washington State Restaurant Association for distinguished service to the industry.
Nicholas Zanides became a citizen of the United States as soon as he was old enough to apply. He was active in the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA), a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle. He was a member of the lodges of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Free and Accepted Masons and a member of all the higher bodies of Masonry. In 1939 he and his wife were among the founders of their Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption where he also served as president of the parish in the early 1950s and was honored by his church when he was awarded the cross of St. Andrew. Mary Zanides was the first president of the Assumption Philoptochos (womens’ auxiliary) and a scholarship was established in her name.
One receives a clear picture of Nicholas and Mary while reading daughter Frances’ following personal reflections on her parents.
”My father was an avid gardener and hearty outdoor sportsman. He went hunting with Eddie Bauer, along with Sam, dad’s favorite hunting Labrador Retriever. He was a wonderful athlete, swimming in particular, and a culinary master. While he tended his much-loved array of roses at our Camano Island summer retreat, ever present classical music could be heard wafting from open windows.
My father and mother consistently made time to come see me in school plays – clearly my best audience! He always remembered us on birthdays and Valentine’s Day with cards and gifts, hand chosen by him. He made a very good education possible for his children. On Sunday mornings enticing aromas drifted ‘round the kitchen, where we waited anxiously as Dad prepared his famous and so very delicious waffles – happily enjoyed by all of us. During the holidays our home was robust with decorating activity and much excitement readying the arrival of family, friends, notables and acquaintances. All would enjoy a most sumptuous fare, sprightly conversation, laughter and an overall heartwarmingly memorable experience, recalled by friends to this day. My parents’ confidence and ever-present charm greeted everyone.
Summer trips included journeys to Europe, Asia Minor, Polynesia and Canada. Dad was always so excited when he took me to the circus, football games and on our Camano Island fishing outings.
My father had a wonderful sense of humor and was a most astute, talented mimic, quite possibly a characteristic his children inherited. He always relished every opportunity to use another gift, his tone-perfect singing voice. My father’s laughter was so infectious all would join laughing, often not knowing why. He was a graceful, confident dancer, my aunts always awaiting their spin around the dance floor.
He had a most distinguished sartorial and flawless fashion sense. He enjoyed his automobiles, among them a 1930 Ford 2-door Deluxe Coupe. Riding in it and hearing the “ooga ooga” horn always made me laugh.
Clearly, Nicholas and Mary Zanides were blessings in the lives of their children. Their love and devotion was shown daily, as were their exemplary morals, work ethic, integrity, honesty and intellectual curiosity. Role models are often referred to in one’s life and truly I can say my mother and father all their lives carried the highest of standards for their children to emulate. They remain, now and always, my inspired stellar mentors for which I give daily thanks.”By John and Joann Nicon (December, 2014) PHOTOS
1 Nicholas Zanides at Crawford’s, circa 1957
2 Nicholas with his popcorn wagon, circa 1908
3 Boston Café, Nicholas at left, Tom Denakis on first stool, circa 1910
4 Ladas family (l-r) Virginia, Mary, Uncle John, cousin Victoria, Helen, circa 1918
5 Mary and Nicholas, circa 1957
6 Washington Restaurant Association Banquet (l-r) Peter Wells, Effie Wells, Nicholas, Mary, George Diafos, Jenny Diafos, 1952
7 Nicholas and Mary with Peter Canlis in Hawaii, circa 1953
8 Night photo of Crawford’s, 1940s
9 Seattle Guide cover, 1957
10 Washington State Restaurant Association award, 1957
11 Nicholas with young customers, circa 1957
12 Zanides family home in Seattle, 1940s
13 1930 Ford 2-door Deluxe Coupe, from www.carsoodle.com
Photo 10 by John Nicon; 13 from www.carsoodle.com; all others from Zanides family collection. SOURCES
Interview by John and Joann Nicon with Frances Zanides, June 2014 and her personal reflections; WASHINGTON: Northwest Frontier, volume IV, New York, 1957; Seattle Guide March 1-7, 1957