A Family Favorite for over 50 years
January 10, 2023
For our family, going to this restaurant was always an event. Perhaps it was due to the unique location. Or perhaps the unusual décor. Or maybe it was because you were encouraged to weigh yourself BEFORE and AFTER your meal.
Whatever that combination, a visit to the Old Spaghetti Factory (OSF) was fun and memorable. The very first OSF opened on January 10, 1970 in Portland, Oregon.
The Infallible Wikipedia tells us:
“The chain was founded in Portland, Oregon, on January 10, 1969, by Guss Dussin. (snip)
Many of the chain’s restaurants are located inside renovated warehouses, train stations, and historic locations. The restaurant decor traditionally features antiques, including chandeliers, brass headboards and footboards as bench backs for booths. Each restaurant’s most prominent feature is a streetcar in the middle of the restaurant with seating inside.”
Not satisfied with the IW description, I took a gander at the OSF official webpage and gleaned additional information.
Of course they talked about the original location in Portland, but the snippet I liked best was this:
“The original Old Spaghetti Factory trolley car was found in a field near Reed College in Portland, OR. We refurbished the car and began using it as a unique dining area for guests at our first location. The trolley car has since become a fixture in our locations across the U.S. When our flagship restaurant relocated to its current Portland location, the original car moved with us, of course.”
I cannot specifically recall my first visit to a Spaghetti Factory. All I do know is that it was sometime in the late 1970’s and it was at either the Seattle or Tacoma location.
In researching this article I did learn something which I thought was a bit sad. Neither of those two original locations still exists as OSF restaurants. It was the Seattle location, at the corner of Elliott Avenue and Clay, across from the waterfront, which became the family favorite.
When my kids were little and a special dinner out was being planned, Spaghetti Factory was often the requested destination. Birthday dinners were celebrated there. Heck, the hubby and I even had an anniversary dinner (with the kids!) there one year.
Once or twice we even sat in the coveted trolley car. But where we sat didn’t matter. The Seattle OSF reeked with ambiance no matter where in the building you were seated.
Due to the popularity of the restaurant, we developed a strategy: arrive as close to when they opened – 4 p.m. – as possible to avoid having to wait too long for a table. Another strategy was to have the driver – usually the hubby – drop us off at the front door. I would get our name on the list and manage the kids while he went in search of often hard to find parking.
But none of that mattered when the warm bread arrived at the table with the two different vats of butter: garlic and plain. By the time our son was around 10, he started ordering the extra large helping of spaghetti with browned butter and myzithra cheese. And would polish off every last morsel. When an older teen his sister’s half eaten spaghetti would usually find its way to his plate to finish.
Despite being full from all those carbs, however, when the spumoni ice cream arrived there would be negotiations as to who got the one with the largest amount of pistachio.
It was not unusual to record a couple of gained pounds on the old fashioned scale in the lobby.
Then the unthinkable occurred in 2016: the Seattle OSF was closing its doors, the building and land (where the parking lot was located) had been sold and the new owners had a different vision for the valuable real estate.
The three of us – hubby, son, and me – hatched a plan to visit one last time. And, as always, we employed a strategy for best results: arrive by five, drop off the mom, go find parking. On December 21, 2016, our trio – along with hundreds of our closest friends – enjoyed one final dinner at the original Old Spaghetti Factory in Seattle. We ate too much bread and too much Spaghetti. We savored one final dish of spumoni ice cream. I refused to weigh myself instead opting to simply enjoy a favorite family tradition.
Yes, we’ve been to the Lynnwood, Washington location and, well, it just isn’t the same. But who knows, maybe the next time our son comes to visit we will make the trek ‘for old times’ sake and to create new memories. And also because he still loves, loves, loves, spaghetti with browned butter and myzithra cheese thanks to the Old Spaghetti Factory.
A few links: