Mike's Chili Parlor in Ballard.
The place from the outside looks exactly like the rundown dump it is. Inside you will meet a motley cast of characters that remind me of those foggy waterfront bars in every Charlie Chan movie. This part of Seattle is known for its fishing fleet and even today the waterfront is filled with masts so the comparison is not just my imagination....
Mike's Chili has that seedy, down-on-your-luck feel to it. In fact, director Bud Yorkin made Mike's a movie star when he featured the bar in his 1985 film, TWICE OF A LIFETIME, which stars Gene Hackman and Anne Margaret. Some pivotal scenes take place in this bar between Hackman and Stephen Lang which prove how good both actors really are. Great film!
But what Mike's Chili is really famous for is its chili. They put chili on EVERYTHING. And this is the only bar I know where they sell chili by the gallon.
Here is a piece featuring Mike's Chili from the Food Network.
So what does any of this have to do with real estate?
Mike's Chili Parlor occupies a prime corner lot right off the Ballard Bridge. Real estate does not get much better than this. This lot defines the old axiom "Location, Location, Location."
So when it was announced that a major new retail project was being built on Mike's block, everyone assumed that Mike's was doomed.
Thankfully, we were wrong.
In one of the most impressive build arounds I have ever seen, Mike's Chili Parlor has been preserved for future generations who want to experience a unique Seattle treasure. Click here and see the new retail block which includes a Trader Joe's and an LA Fitness. But in the upper right photo look under the sign that reads BALLARD BLOCKS there is little Mike's Chili and its wonderful corner lot. This is an amazing photograph, a testament to survival. No one makes me happier to see how that block was developed right around the old bar.
If you check out the Google Maps entry for "Mike's Chili Parlor Seattle" you get a street view that actually shows you the Ballard Block being constructed around Mike's. Very cool shot.
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No real visit to Seattle is complete without a visit to Mikes. Yes, they even have pull tabs!