A Taste of Seattle History: Maison Blanc Restaurant

~posted by Jade

Maison Blanc in 1959, Image from the Werner Lenggenhager Photograph Collection

Maison Blanc in 1959, Image from the Werner Lenggenhager Photograph Collection

Starting in the 1970s, the library began amassing a menu collection featuring Seattle restaurants from Big Boy Burgers to The Wok Hut Restaurant & Deli. The Seattle Historic Menu Collection, as it came to be known, is now home to hundreds of menus, 400 of which have been digitized and made available online.

Maison Blanc Menu, Image from our Seattle Historical Menu Collection

Maison Blanc Menu, Image from our Seattle Historical Menu Collection

In this collection, we have two menus from Maison Blanc, one of Seattle’s most famous restaurants in the era before names like Canlis took the stage. Owned by Charles Joseph Ernest Blanc, the restaurant was located in the Stacy Mansion which was itself a prominent piece of Seattle history. The mansion was built in 1883 by Martin and Elizabeth Stacy and served as both a meeting place for the Seattle Chamber of Commerce and a boarding house before Maison Blanc opened in the mid-1920’s.

Maison Blanc was famous for serving delicacies with an international flair such as “Broiled half Chinese Pheasant on Toast,” “Escargots Parisienne,” and “Paprika schnitzel” (along with a guarantee that customers would be brought something new at no extra charge if they ended up regretting their adventurous eating choice). To add to the fine dining aspect, Blanc decorated the mansion with ornate European paintings, sculptures and antiques—including a sofa which was allegedly once used by Napoleon.

Maison Blanc 1933 Advertisement, Image from The Seattle Times

Maison Blanc 1933 Advertisement, Image from The Seattle Times

Over the years, the restaurant had many slogans, such as “Where Epicureans Meet” and “Aristocratic Dinner at a Democratic Price.” My favorite slogan “The A-B-C at Maison Blanc: Atmosphere! Beefsteak! Calories!” can be seen in this 1933 advertisement from the Seattle Times featuring Mr. Blanc himself.

Although Charles Blanc died in 1955, the restaurant continued to operate in the Stacy Mansion until 1960 when a burglar attempting to rob the mansion of its valuables dropped a match in a broom closet while lighting his cigarette, setting off a magnificent blaze.  Many of the unique furnishings and artwork were lost in the blaze. The total cost of the damage was estimated at $149,000 (approximately $1,190,033 in today’s dollars) and the mansion was torn down two months later.

Hungry for more? See more of our Historic Menu Collection online or take a peek at these books on Seattle’s historic restaurants available from the library.

This entry was posted in local history, LOCAL INTEREST and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to A Taste of Seattle History: Maison Blanc Restaurant

  1. rosebunting says:

    But the little white box lived on as the Frankfurter and Mexico Lindo until torn down late in the last century.

  2. sandi k says:

    This is such a treat I hesitate to mention a glitch, but unless they’re using a highway flare to crisp their creme brulee, I think you mean “international flair”

    “Maison Blanc was famous for serving delicacies with an international flare”

    Many thanks for this charming essay — I now have a new motto for the week. “Atmosphere! Beefsteak! Calories!”

  3. rablogspl says:

    Ah! That one slipped by our editors. Thank you for letting us know!

  4. Pingback: October Takeover: Oh, the Trebuchets of Fall! | Shelf Talk

  5. Richard H. Chessman says:

    1951 my dad was hired to run the kitchen for J. Blanc. They became such good friends that when Mr. Blanc passed my father could not work there any longer. They had 7 dining rooms each with a different cuisine. One of the reasons Mr. Blanc hired my father was he was rated the #3 chef in the U.S.in 1951. I worked there when I was only 4 1//2 years old. My father when to open up the original El Gaucho’s for Jim Ward on 7th and Olive.

  6. Laurie Ragan Anderson says:

    My dad, Lloyd Ragan, owned this restaurant back in the 60s. He kept it going after the fire. I spent a lot of time here as a kid. ❤💕❤💕

  7. Annette M. says:

    …back in the late ’70s, early 80’s was the location at 308 Marion known as The Price is Right? I remember its Tequila Sunrises and Screwdrivers. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s