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Totem House closes after 62 years in Ballard

Posted by Geeky Swedes on December 31st, 2010

Since 1948 people have been eating fish and chips at the Totem House. The restaurant, which sits just across the street from the Ballard Locks, is a yet another neighborhood victim of the economy.

Everything inside is being removed and hauled away. Chairs, the kitchen stove and even the teepee is being dismantled. The owner declined to talk with us, but the sign on the door says it all: “Goodbye friends,” the first line reads, “The economy has overtaken us. We will miss you greatly.”

Nora Charles first posted this in the forum and Cate responded, “I remember my family getting their fish and chips and sitting on the hillside above the locks eating it – must of been forty-five years ago. Hard to see something left from childhood disappear.”

Mechelle Bush has been coming to the Totem House for years. She stopped by Friday afternoon after seeing the sign on the door, not really believing that the Ballard institution has closed. “In the summer, in the winter, I’d stop by and get chowder on the way home from work. Yeah, I’m gonna miss it,” she tells us. “I feel bad for them. A lot of good memories. It’s just tragic.”

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68 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 JustSayin' // Jan 3, 2011 at 2:45 am

    If they’ve been offered and have accepted journalism awards from someone, that would be evidence of the awarder’s considering the blog to represent some sort of excellence and not of the blog’s “aspiring to journalistic credibility.”

  • 2 ballardbeaver96 // Jan 3, 2011 at 5:51 am

    The Totem House has not been good for twenty years. I don’t know what everyone is so upset about, the food was garbage and the prices were to high. Adios I say.
    I had a friend who worked at the Totem House in the 90’s. I once asked him what he did there, his reply was “mostly I kill rats”.

  • 3 ballardissmallilikeanonymity // Jan 3, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Well, yes… I indulged in a bit of winking hyperbole there. Honestly, Cate, I meant no offense to you, personally.

    But I did mean offense to your dug-in heels. Seattle has a very real problem of deeming all views “equally valid” even when one is demonstrably wrong. “Must of” is not equal. It’s wrong. Period.

    I drew the line.

  • 4 reasonable debate // Jan 3, 2011 at 11:30 pm

    I tried making this post before, but I guess the inclusion of a web address prohibited it from going through.

    To be clear, I was talking about the Geeky Swedes article about the Totem House. I don’t care about a grammatical error in a forum. I would image a forum post for a blogger is like an interview for a print journalist. The interviewee may make a grammatical error, but so what? They are in the moment and not bound by editorial review. The paper is bound by such concerns. This is the great thing about “[sic].” It captures both the speaker’s content and intent, thus advancing journalistic concerns for accuracy and clarity.

    As for MyBallard seeing itself as a journalism source, I think it certainly does. The post that didn’t make it included a link to a forum at UW where one of the Swedes was talking about blogs’ role in a new journalistic environment. Also, one rarely wins a journalism award without sending in a submission.

  • 5 Anonymous // Jan 4, 2011 at 12:33 am

    …and the Totem House is soooo last year.

  • 6 Chris Zimmerman // Jan 5, 2011 at 4:02 am

    haha i love reading these comments! do you have nothing better to do than correct spelling on a neighborhood blog?

  • 7 JustSayin' // Jan 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I understand the value and point of the “[sic].” What I don’t agree with is the notion that not including it somehow damages the blog’s “journalistic credibility.” What purpose does the notation serve? All it would do in this instance is to indicate that the grammatical error is not the author’s, but that of the person being quoted.

    Was there actually an “interviewee” or was Geeky Swedes quoting a post? (I had the impression that it was the latter, because if it were a transcrption of an oral statement, “must’ve” and “must of” would likely be homophonous.) Does “journalistic credibility” mean accurately conveying information, or adhering absolutely to the standards of the editorial stylebook? One could make the case that including “[sic]” (especially in instances such as thisone in which it does nothing to enhance clarity) potentially functions to discourage contributions from readers, which perhaps is at cross-purposes with the blog’s goals.

  • 8 Jkochoff // Jan 16, 2011 at 5:46 am

    The Totem had simply the best ‘Fish & Chips’ in all of Seattle. I’m so sad to see it gone! Just a reminder that time changes things… JoAnn Mydske Kochoff

  • 9 Elemental // Jan 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Oddly enough, I had no idea this place had closed. It “must of” been while I was trying to find a decent meal of fried goodness, because when I gave up THAT pointless search and returned to the Totem House, I was SOL.

    Whether it was to my taste or not, it is always sad to see such a long-standing business close. Most restaurants don’t make it 5 years, let alone 64.

    I love the idea of Red Mill Burgers going into that location.

  • 10 Elemental // Jan 31, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    or 62…or whatever 2010 minus 1948 is equal to…

  • 11 pepper03 // Jun 8, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    I can’t believe the Totem House is closed. I come once a year from Georgia just to eat the fish. It is always my first stop coming from the airport. I was going to stop tonight and pick up fish and googled to see what time it closed. I never thought it would really be “closed” for good. I will miss it terribly! Georgia resident

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  • 18 Gmail sign in // Oct 18, 2016 at 4:50 am

    I consider this is a loss for the city. 62 years is a long time and it’s like a tradition, although I don’t visit this Totem House often, but I also feel lost.

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