RIP Rusty Pelican (more to come?)

Goodbye Rusty PelicanThe Rusty Pelican has shuttered its Wallingford location after 11 1/2 years. According to a friend of the owners, the store was successful financially, but the owners were unable to renew the lease, as the building’s owner, Costas Antonopoulos, is looking to to build a mixed use development on the lot, which includes the rug show next door as well as Murphy’s Pub.

The Rusty Pelican’s Mill Creek and Edmonds locations remain open and their Facebook page states simply:

We would like to thank everyone for the past 11 1/2 years. Our seattle location is now closed but please come visit our mill creek or Edmonds location.

However, this listing on Loopnet for the “Murphy’s Pub Building” confirms the story:

Offered exclusively, or with four adjacent parcels as a package for $13,500,000. Together, the five parcels have a proposal for a new 6-story mixed-use building with commercial development on main level and up to 195 condo units, plus underground parking.

According to the Rusty Pelican web site:

We are a family owned restaurant, originally from Chicago where we had a restaurant for 25 years. We moved to the Seattle area in 2000, and have had the Rusty Pelican for 7 years. Peter and Marilyn have been married for 31 years and in that time they have either owned or worked in restaurants. Peter moved from Greece to the United States when he was only 16 years old and began working in a restaurant as a busser. He later worked at 2 restaurants cooking for large banquets as well as a steak house where he met Marilyn.

At the age of 26 Peter thought to use his knowledge and opened a very successful restaurant with his 3 brothers that sat 300 people. He then left it to his brothers after owning it for 25 years to join friends in the Seattle area who worked for him in Chicago.

Marilyn has also had a long career in restaurants starting work at the age of 8 working at her grandmothers Sweet shop and has been working in them ever since.

We have twin daughters who are also partners in the restaurant as well as our other business serving authentic Greek fast food called Gyro Delight in Lynnwood. Peter is the chef at both restaurants.

Oh Wallingford, change is blowing.

(Thanks for the tip, Jen H!)

  1. Sara B said,

    I’m so sad. I wish I’d had a chance to go one last time. :(

    Sun, October 13 at 7:51 pm
  2. t said,

    I’m with Sara B. in that I wish I could have gone one last time for breakfast. I don’t think I’m too disappointed, though. I’ve enjoyed the food over the years, but the service has always been lacking. The wait staff, outside of a couple of gals the last six months or so, have generally been uninterested, uncaring, and cold. I’ll have to go back to my old spots, which have had great service, but the food wasn’t as good.

    Sun, October 13 at 7:59 pm
  3. yoyo said,

    bummer to have a new development. The service was so-so. The food too fattening. I liked the previous restaurant there- the Italian/greek one wiht the great pizzas. When willMurphys close/

    Sun, October 13 at 8:03 pm
  4. Bdub said,

    Oh great another cardboard condo building. Let me guess the bottom floor will have a fedex/kinkos and a tanning salon..

    Sun, October 13 at 8:04 pm
  5. Heather said,

    wow…so are we going to lose every restaurant in Wallingford for more mixed use buildings that people are not leasing?


    Sun, October 13 at 8:09 pm
  6. hsofia said,

    I wasn’t impressed by the food at all, but “mixed use” – what does this mean? Apartments/condos and then some empty retail space below, like we see all over Ballard? I also hope the building isn’t hideous, and that construction doesn’t clog up 45th for months on end. It’s a shame when a successful business can’t continue because of real estate drama.

    Sun, October 13 at 8:17 pm
  7. Dennis said,

    I was really surprised to walk by and see it closed. Glad to hear they were still doing well financially and the two other locations continue to thrive – I know it can be tough to make it the restaurant business.

    Sun, October 13 at 8:19 pm
  8. frankie said,

    I shall miss him standing around in his Cosby sweaters, scowling at the staff with a dissatisfied sneer and refusing to help.

    Sun, October 13 at 9:14 pm
  9. David said,

    While it’s never nice to hear a successful business having to close it’s doors, I would say that having a high density, mixed use building on 45th would be a good thing. 45th as a thriving mixed retail/restaurant street seems to be dying, and what it needs is quality, dense housing that gets more people out walking the streets and spending money. If there really are 195 condos built, an extra 200-400 people will be added to our neighborhood, looking to shop, hang out, and eat! As much as I like to harken back to “the good old days” this city is not going to get any smaller, so let’s just make sure as the density comes what’s built is tasteful and done right.

    Sun, October 13 at 10:17 pm
  10. abigail said,

    David. Yes, “let’s make sure… what’s built…is done right.” How can we do that? I hope someone takes this on.

    I like to trade at the small shops in Wallingford. I enjoy the small town atmosphere, knowing the vendors and having them know my name. I like the tree lined streets and low, pleasantly unique buildings that permit a feeling of openness. Can we preserve our urban village atmosphere and also do what is necessary to generate success for businesses in our area?

    Sun, October 13 at 10:46 pm
  11. DOUG. said,

    I agree that 45th could benefit from increased density, but is the Murphy’s building the right site? It seems to me that we should focus on keeping Wallingford’s interesting buildings whenever possible. The Uptown Espresso/Teriyaki block is mostly parking lot, why not develop that?

    Mon, October 14 at 8:29 am
  12. Mike said,

    First, there are two better breakfast/lunch places a block away – Patty’s Eggnest and Julia’s, so there are still good meal options. Second, two of the buildings on this parcel are in the City of Seattle list of Buildings of Historical Significance (the old Fuji Five & Dime/Rusty Pelican building and the old Wallingford Hardware Company/Tweedy & Popp Hardware/current rug store building). This designation should provide a platform for concerned neighbors to fight redevelopment to another faceless multi-use, multi-story building (as happened on the old Pay-n-Save site). The “canyonizing” of 45th St. is not an attractive future for the neighborhood.

    Mon, October 14 at 8:31 am
  13. Jen said,

    Gee, maybe they’ll put a Rite-Aid in that space and we’ll have 5 pharmacies in Wallingford. That would be great!

    Mon, October 14 at 9:11 am
  14. chris said,

    Having eaten at both, I don’t think you can say Julia’s is in the same league as Rusty Pelican, but maybe my one-and-done experience at Julia’s (gross bacon, stiff pancakes) was an anomaly.

    Given the traffic on 45th, I don’t think more density makes tons of sense; if I can’t walk, I avoid the area like the plague. We can’t draw people from outside walking distance to the 45th commercial corridor that exact reason.

    I think what we’re going to get is a lot of greedy landlords forcing out good tenants in the hope of selling out to some Ballard-style re-developers, followed by a lot of empty store fronts and blight, or that other awesome Ballard feature, useless boutiques and “housewares” shops that never last more than six months.

    Pretty soon I think we’re all going to be looking at Taco Time as the best thing about the neighborhood. At least it’s steady.

    Mon, October 14 at 10:49 am
  15. Brady said,

    We might be getting ahead of ourselves here. The property is listed for $13.5M, which is too expensive. I don’t see it as currently pending. More likely that the current owner applied for a building permit in order to look attractive to investors. I imagine the landlord wanted the Rusty Pelican to sign on for one year at a time, but with the uncertainty, they decided to leave. I remember the same thing happening at the old Tweedy and Pop location, but they haven’t redeveloped that property.

    Mon, October 14 at 11:00 am
  16. Dennis said,

    I checked and didn’t find a building permit application on either the Murphy’s or Pelican lots. The six stories sounds a bit far fetched – the height limit here is 40′ which typically means one floor of commercial with three residential floors on top of it.

    Mon, October 14 at 11:30 am
  17. DOUG. said,

    @16: I fear what happened on Broadway can happen on 45th. In the early-2000s a landlord kept his properties vacant for a couple of years (they were the old Safeway and QFC buildings between Republican and Mercer) until the City Council and Mayor agreed to lift the building heights there from 40′ to 65′. In the meantime those buildings were fenced off and boarded up, which was not a pretty sight.

    Mon, October 14 at 11:48 am
  18. neighbor said,


    Not going to miss the Pelican all that much but just one less option so something relatively comforty and not too expensive.

    I hate to call a landlord greedy for trying to return on their investment, I’d do that same. That probably why they are in a position to own these sorts of things anyhow.

    Mon, October 14 at 12:06 pm
  19. Kathy said,

    I totally agree with David. It feels like I have fewer and fewer reasons to walk up 8 blocks and spend money on the 45th strip. (I’m not really into brunch, lamps, sushi, or carpets) Perhaps this is not a popular sentiment, but I’d like to see the 45th strip revitalized with modern housing and tasteful/smart density.

    Mon, October 14 at 12:13 pm
  20. bill said,

    well this sucks. just what wallingford needs, more condo’s and uppity white people (aka lack of culture)

    why is seattle slowly turning into bellevue?

    Mon, October 14 at 12:19 pm
  21. Donn said,

    If it makes sense to put up thousands of new units down here at the southwest edge of Wallingford, it certainly makes sense to put more up there where there is actually at least a trace of urban retail and services to support them. For sure, N 45th is a mess, but to ban residential development for that reason you need some kind of “no one goes there any more, it’s too crowded” kind of logic. Canyons, traffic, etc., it’s the density you and your city leaders are calling for, to support the population growth everyone expects us to accept, and that’s right where it should go.

    Mon, October 14 at 12:22 pm
  22. C. Vale said,

    Density and growth doesn’t have to mean faceless condo buildings with boring retail options but that is often the default. Having a neighborhood that is organized and vocal about the kinds of business that they would support and the type of building they would support could go a long way to making 45th a more attractive destination. At the moment, there is not enough housing there to support a diverse retail center so a smart approach to increasing density could help revitalize the whole neighborhood.

    P.S. Since when did condos start being inhabited solely by “uppity white people” with no culture?

    Mon, October 14 at 2:37 pm
  23. Sidni Sobolik said,

    Plenty going on in Wallingford. I read most of the comments and wonder what people really do want here. I have lived here for 30 years and I still love it. Changes and all. I like the people (haven’t met many uppity people – lucky for me I guess) and I still have plenty of reasons to walk around on 45th. The Tea House with the best chai in town — still here after all these years, fine hardware, grocers, restaurants, movies, pedicures, oil change, ice cream — seriously — I still love Wallingford.

    Mon, October 14 at 2:54 pm
  24. donna said,

    @#20: “uppity white people (aka lack of culture)”? Really?
    Aren’t you being a bit racist about a building development?
    Would you prefer that we designate specific buildings for specific races?
    I thought this neighborhood was a little further than that :-(

    Mon, October 14 at 5:20 pm
  25. Brandon said,

    Looks like we can add Wallingford Pizza House to the list of restaurants leaving or closed. Went there last week and they were closed. A permit in the window showed a liquor license application for an Octopus Bar & Grill. I will miss Wallingford Pizza House (but maybe that should be the subject of another post). Anyone want to chip in with me and buy the Rusty Pelican property for $13.5 Million and start a nice Wallingford microbrewery? I have about $13.50 so that’s only about $13.5 Million more to go…

    Mon, October 14 at 5:22 pm
  26. evon said,

    Well that’s sad that they were not allowed to renew their lease and that a new development is coming to Wallingford’s funky old buildings. About “uppity white folks” I doubt the development will be condos. Most likely it will be apartments charging exorbitant rents. The powers that be continue to focus their apartment investments on Seattle and so we will lose our quaint funky old one-story buildings same as is happening all over the city. :(

    Mon, October 14 at 8:11 pm
  27. Batman said,

    People make a city, not buildings. Regardless of what structures are built, if you find you don’t like the atmosphere and personality of your neighborhood — look in the mirror, you might be part of the problem.

    Tue, October 15 at 12:02 am
  28. neighbor said,

    sad to hear about WPH. Tried calling there on Friday night and it eventually went to a machine. that place always had a weird vibe, loved the pizza though.

    Tue, October 15 at 10:00 am
  29. Neighbor said,

    The owner of the Rusty Pelican was cold and rude to the customers and mean to the staff. We went there a couple of times and never went back. I won’t miss it. That said, I don’t like the idea of more condos and more pharmacies or other corporate stores along 45th. And I’m worried about Murphy’s. The rug store I don’t care much about–there never seems to be anyone in there and they’ve been going out of business for ages.

    As someone who has lived in this neighborhood for almost 20 years, I miss so much of what used to be here: the Jitterbug. And the bookstores. And the plant nursery.

    Tue, October 15 at 2:43 pm
  30. yoyo said,

    well, Julia’s is so poorly run. Snooty wait staff.
    People allowed all those other developments.. we’vesold our soul and now have to give it up. Wallingford with character is dying to block concrete condos.

    Tue, October 15 at 4:50 pm
  31. HC said,

    There is a lot of false information listed above as well as the article that has been written. These blogs should be based on FACTS not RUMORS. RIP rusty pelican!! U will be missed!!!

    Tue, October 15 at 7:40 pm
  32. TRW said,

    I am not sure what false information #31 is referring to.
    As far as my experience, Rusty Pelican had poor service/poor no tears shed here. Why do we lament the passing of the mediocre?

    Wed, October 16 at 9:36 pm
  33. HC said,

    #32 just because YOU found it “mediocre” doesn’t mean the supporters of rusty pelican can’t be sad. Obviously they r doing something right since they have 2 other rusty pelicans that r very busy plus another restaurant. I’ve been to all of them and the other pelicans r AMAZING including their gyro place

    Thu, October 17 at 7:35 am
  34. Mike said,

    Businesses come and go for a variety of reasons – fans and detractors of Rusty Pelican food can disagree about the quality of fare and the attitude of the owner. What isn’t deniable is that the buildings involved are some of Wallingford’s most historic, distinctive and unique. The character of the neighborhood is in part reflected by the look and style. When Murphy’s Pub was built by Chris Barnes years ago it was designed and constructed to have a unique, distinctive look that fit in with the character of the neighborhood. When the Hansen family remodeled and expanded their Harold’s Lamps store, they restored the exterior much to its original form to recapture the original look of the buildings from the 1920’s/30’s.

    The ramshackle, troublesome boarding house on the back of the property would be no loss and the former dry cleaning building (probably contaminated ground) is not of any social/architectural significance. BUT the buildings facing out on N 45th St are considered to be of significance and hisorical importance to Seattle – if they.are to be knocked down it will be just another step toward the bland homogenization of Wallingford. An interesting, vibrant street attracts interesting, vibrant businesses and encourages people to walk the neighborhood and interact with each other. Wallingford does not need to look like Bellevue or Woodinville or Lynnwood.

    Thu, October 17 at 9:14 am
  35. Neighbor2You said,

    @34, Mike, I wasn’t sure how to read your second paragraph…are the buildings already on some kind of register with the City? And if so, isn’t there some process that has to be followed prior to their being demolished and replaced by mixed-use development?

    Thu, October 17 at 9:37 am
  36. dolores said,

    At the Edmonds location I always find a great meal that’s a cut above average expectations. Staff is also well aware and congenial. I was looking forward to visiting the Wallingford location as I have appointments in the neighborhood too… Darn I hope they comeback …..

    Thu, October 17 at 2:14 pm
  37. Mike said,

    @Neighbor: the City of Seattle website has a link to the city’s listing of buildings of historical significance. This is an official designation and is a necessary step before a building is designated as protected. Probably a step that would have to be taken if neighborhood folks want to prevent any demolition.

    Thu, October 17 at 2:21 pm
  38. Camille said,

    Man alive!! Granted I am no longer a Wallingford resident but why is this happening?? The main drag was perfect as-is. Who needs 195 condos? It feels like it won’t be charming little Wallingford much longer…

    Fri, October 18 at 11:07 am
  39. Jacqui said,

    There is an eviction notice on the door today. It sounds like they owe rent, at least based on the notice legalese. A couple signs are posted from the inside saying, ‘Openong soon under new management.’ There is also sigs of construction activity. Doesn’t look like it’s being prepped for sale.

    Sun, October 20 at 9:02 pm
  40. KC said,

    I agree with Jacqui–it doesn’t look like it’s being sold. There are 3 signs out in front of saying that they are reopening under new management.

    Thu, October 24 at 9:06 pm
  41. Charlie said,

    Hello Neighbors,
    Yesterday 24oct13, I met my good friend of twenty years, Costas, outside his
    demolished restaruant. Friends there is a lot more to the above story than the
    sugar sweet bio of Marilyn and Peter [ who I was also freinds with].

    a week or so ago there was a Sheriff’s evection posting on the doors. Seems,
    according to Costas his tennant is five digits past due on rent. He also shared with me
    an insight to his lease agreement. Fixtures installed by the landlord, stay with the
    building. Costas lease required in addition that fixtures installed by the tennant
    also were not to be removed, becomming the property of the leassor.

    Costas, built the restaruant, from the toilets and sinks to the very large ranges and hood. Come to your own conclusions, but the place has been gutted, including restroom plumbing. Who took these things, where are they now?

    What bothered me most though, was the condition of the wall under the hood, the hood its self, and the filth in the kitchen. This place was one of Robert’s from Restaurnats Impossible [cable Ch 37] nightmares. Peter and Marilyn had never cleaned. Cockroaches? Mice and Rats? OMG, I worked in restaruants for over forty years, and have never seen the “back-of-the-house” as filthy as this became.

    On another note, yes, at onetime Costas developed plans for the redevelopment
    of the parcels he owns, there at 45th and Meridian. At that time, the now twenty-year
    old neighborhood plans, written by a lot of residents who are dead or have moved away, restrected what could be done on the property. The City stood by the neighborhood plan, and rejected the proposal.
    More recently, Costas did offer the properties for sale, but has reversed course and
    removed them from the commercial listings. Murphy’s can live on! YES! And the discourse, regarding what could happen on that corner to enrich our community, can continue.

    I suggested, in that for now that he consider designing the space to serve our neighborhood in two ways. Tully’s is gone, so too is one of those special meeting places, and student “study halls”. It was a great place to read a book, people watch, or hold a small group meeting. Why not turn his new project into a coffeehouse?

    So I ask you, moving forward, what would draw you into a new foodservice establishment, and keep you comming back? If the upper seating area is developed
    for small group meetings, banquets, wi-fi lap top use, would that meet the needs of this great neighborhood? Let Costas know, now is the time before he falls back on the
    same ol’ pattern.

    Fri, October 25 at 11:43 am
  42. Mike said,

    @charlie I use to rent from costa the house behind the rusty pelican and if there are any roaches in that restaurant they are coming from that house since it’s infested with them. Since you seem to know costa so well why don’t you ask to take a tour of his home so you can also let all of Wallingford know what a slum lord he is. That home doesn’t even have any proper plumbing!!! You have to throw your toilet paper in the garbage and he has the nerve to charge people to live In that dump.

    Fri, October 25 at 5:37 pm
  43. iyqtoo said,

    I was very active in the creation of the neighborhood plan from 1995-1999. I’m pretty sure there are still a lot of us still living or owning property in Wallingford who actively monitor this site. I have issues with your comments.

    Costa’s initial and oversized redevelopment proposal was as disrespectful of the neighborhood as the trash he stored on the roof over the back door of his restaurant until volunteers at the new neighborhood office pressured him to clean it up around 2000.

    But that isn’t why he couldn’t get the permit. He didn’t get it because his plan was a full two stories taller than current zoning allows, he’d have needed a Contract Rezone (a rezone specific to his lot). The process is expensive, time consuming, requires lots of community input and, if approved, usually means providing compensation to the neighborhood in exchange for changes neighboring property owners are forced to accept. For example, as part of their Contract Rezone agreement, the developers of Regatta (35th and Wallingford) contributed (very!) heavily to development of the Wallingford Steps, adjacent to their site, on what was once a bramble patch with needle-laden trails down to Gasworks Park.

    Sadly, disrespectful land use decisions under the current Mayor’s administration no longer come as a surprise, but I sincerely hope they haven’t taken away our right to influence when rezones are being considered, especially right in the midst of our business district!

    Also, I’m not sure of the relationship, but I seem to recall that the owners of the Rusty Pelican are relatives of Costa’s, is that not true?

    Fri, October 25 at 6:01 pm
  44. iyqtoo said,

    Sorry, my above comment is to Charlie at #41.

    Fri, October 25 at 6:06 pm
  45. Mike said,

    I knew both parties since I rented from costa a very long time ago and worked at the rusty pelican for a very short time when they opened. They have no relation to one another

    Fri, October 25 at 6:11 pm
  46. charlie said,

    Hello iyqtoo,
    didn’t mean to step on anyones toes regarding participation in “the plan”development.
    and still living here in W-ford. I supported the neighborhood participation idea then, as I do now.
    Is Costas’ proposal a little largescale? I think so, although I wouldn’t be against
    seeing apartments above both his buildings and the buildings to the east. Just not on as grand of a scale. You’re right on point though, his plan didn’t meet zoning code as developed with neighborhood input.

    I think though as we “age” we need to recognise this isn’t 1920. And although much of the architecture is worth conservation, Seattle has grown and needs to continue to grow. Wallingford has room to step up to the plate and participate with it’s fair share of growth. Does that mean that building facads are distroyed, to make room for growth, absolutly not. Nor does it mean that Wallingford ends up looking like downtown Bellevue. Look at the changes on 45th in just the last few years. Do we really need our businesses to opperate in onehundred year old homes? As the resturant and house north of Mollie’s burnt, the SFD responded with more trucks and
    firemen than I ever thought the department owned. Why, safety, in the event that the
    fire got out of hand. This neighborhood is a a potential fire trap, of store fronts built on the front lawns of the origional residential homes. So I ask you, which is more important, rebuilding and upgrading to a safer standard, a greener standard, or maintaining the turn of the last century’s, now well aged potential dangers?

    Costas had a vision of what could be. Change is at hand, if we plan for the future,
    we’ll be successful, if we don’t the future will disrespectfully be dumped on us.

    Regarding the current landuse and mayor, well, hopefully all will get better on Nov.05,
    Get out the VOTE. Send those ballets in early.

    Mike, sad to read that you lived in “that” house. Hope your situation is better.
    This city has very good tennant/landlord laws, sounds like you didn’t use them to
    improve your situation.

    The only relationship Costas has with Peter is the “brotherhood” of being Greek.

    Fri, October 25 at 9:41 pm
  47. yoyo said,

    The previous post is confusing.
    1.) Was this definitely a kitchen from Kitchen Nightmares? or is this a ‘lierary device”?
    2.) This entry sounds like it says RP is xx,xxx.xx$ behind on rent?
    3.) Is this the Costa who owned Costa Opa the Greek restaurant which was on Fremont and 34th?

    last comment the landlord-tenant laws do not cover everything.. and my own situation on fringe on Wallingford does not improve because of the ;/t laws. They fix, repair and respond less and raise rent fairly high each time an dyes, I checked its under the allowance.

    Sun, October 27 at 7:32 am
  48. yoyo said,

    I have stated so often: organic juice bar!
    Womens discount clothing.
    Better shoe store.
    An international hostel.

    Sun, October 27 at 7:37 am
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