From Pawn Shop To Hard Rock

Corporate sterility is on the march up Pike Street.  Can it possibly be true that there are still significant numbers of tourists in the world that think it’s a “must do” to go to the Hard Rock Cafe?  And get the t-shirt too?  Mercy me.  I want the old pawn shop back.

The new Hard Rock is half a block from the main entrance to Pike Market, arguably Seattle’s most iconic location.  And the main reason Pike Market is so iconic is precisely because there is no corporate schlock allowed.   On cue, in swoops corporate American franchise blandness to co-opt and cannabalize that colorful, authentic character.

When it comes to the plague of corporate franchises, our tribal instincts are seriously doing us wrong.  The familiar feels irresistibly safe—it’s deeply embedded in our social psyches.  And that’s the root cause of McStarbucks Nation.  If we simply stopped going to these places, they would disappear.

But evil doesn’t always prevail.  Across the street the gawdawful Johnny Rockets and its hateful 50’s rock ‘n’ roll that assaulted passersby from tinny speakers is no more.  Replaced by none other than the producers of the consistently best doppio espresso in the entire City of Seattle.  Namely, Seattle Coffee Works.

With loving hands
And their arms are stretched so wide
They can’t seem to take a breath
Knowing evil will prevail,
And a million people
Seems like a lot,
And a million people can be wrong

The Flaming Lips


26 Responses to “From Pawn Shop To Hard Rock”

  1. Kathryn

    Well I want the salvage store that was at SLU to at least be somewhere in town (maybe SODO?) instead of Everett. Now I can go to Restoration Hardware, or drive to Everett or Renton.

  2. Coffee Drinking Man

    Oh man, Dan! That pawn shop was god awful. Seriously. The convenience store next to the pawn shop was even worse; the line out of the door for that 95-cent-a-can extra-charged malt drink they sold was always long.
    It was a sad scene, and if that malt they sold wasn’t imported it certainly wasn’t local.

    Would have loved the local brew pub that was planning to move in there at some point but will settle for almost anything over that convenience store.

  3. Ashe

    To be fair to the tourists, though, if cities designed some vaguely iconic logos for their cities and screen printed them on shirts so that people would have a wearable record of visiting the cities, places like Hard Rock would quickly lose their value. People like picking up a kitschy shirt or shot glass when they visit a new place.

  4. Dave

    Dan you must come see the flaming lips with me at marymore.

  5. Joe G

    I understand completely what you are saying with all the branding bs. But as a resident of this neighborhood for the past two and a half years (first place I moved to when I moved to Seattle) I can’t help but think that this will be nothing but good for the neighborhood. It will give people more of an excuse to be here late at night. Hell, it may even start to clean up one of the worst corners in all the city. Urban Visions owns this property as well as the parking lot on the opposite corner. They want to clean up the neighborhood a bit so that they may build a gorgeous hotel multi story hotel. Point being, the idea that the market is brand free is false. Starbucks just put in a new store right on the corner of first and pike and pike. Lets get it in there to revive the neighborhood and then get it out in ten years.

  6. alexjonlin

    Pike Market? Try Pike Place Market.

  7. Demetria

    Please do attack and demean yourself as a worthless NIMBY. That’s what you do to anyone else who dares to care about and raise some legitimate concerns about the change or development of a property.

  8. Justus

    While I must agree that almost anything is better than what used to be there, it’s hard to think of a cheesier tourist trap than hard rock cafe.

    Witness the desecration of Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal train station, home to its version of Pike Place:

    God willing, it will open big, flatline for a few years, and then go the way of Johnny Rocket’s.

  9. McMullet

    “And the main reason Pike (Place) Market is so iconic is precisely because there is no corporate schlock allowed.”

    Except Starbucks.
    Or does that not count because it’s the 1st Starbucks?

    Well old schlock is new again! One of the newest Starbucks is at the corner of 1st and Pike. Old look new again and new schlock still the old schlock.

  10. Ben Trick

    At Dan,
    What’s up with you calling out the corporate argument when there’s a freakin Deja Vu right across the street. Really Dan,where’s your credibility gone to? Keep up the sensationalism!

  11. Stephanie Pure

    Well, technically, the space isn’t in the Pike Place Market Historical District, otherwise it wouldn’t be allowed. For all the nerds out there, here is a large part of the reason why the Market retains it’s historic character: (see guideline 2.6.8)

    You can see the map of the district here: And then you can see why that horrible Deja Vu sign is allowed so close to the Market (Answer: It’s several feet from the District boundary.)

    Yes, the Market doesn’t penalize businesses that grow so that’s why Starbucks and Sur La Table are allowed to have stores in the Market.

  12. keith

    what’s wrong with deja vu?

  13. dan cortland

    Didn’t the Hard Rock Cafe already fail in Seattle?

  14. dan bertolet

    Ben@10: who said I had credibility? I’d take either the Deja Vu or the pawn shop over the Hard Rock Cafe. When a city gets too “cleaned up” it’s not a real city anymore.

  15. David

    NIMBY! you can’t have it both ways Dan.

  16. Jay

    I liked the pawn shop, but the porn arcade was a little much. I’m glad it’s gone. I like a little grit in the city too, but that stretch of Pike Street has been an embarrassing blight for a long time. Pike Street should be one of the nicest streets in the city, because it’s the main route for tourists and locals from the Westlake area to Pike Place Market, but for some reason it’s always been a gauntlet of drug dealers and panhandlers. Maybe a little dose of corporate tourist trap is what’s needed to balance things out.

    Oh, and it’s Pike Place Market, not Pike Market.

  17. jbb

    I think downtown Seattle can be hard on befuddled out of town visitors…Hard Rock isn’t for me, but I can see how some out-of-towner, especially one with kids in tow, overwhelmed by the bustle of the Market, might find themselves seduced by the old familiar.

    Regardless, it looks like they’re doing a good job preserving and fixing up the old building, and look like an improvement over the previous uses. For everyone nostalgic over the loss of the Pawn Shop…do you actually live in the neighborhood?

  18. Zed

    From the Seattle Times story you linked about the pawn shop:

    “Police and prosecutors said Levy, the longtime owner of Liberty Loan Pawn shop on Pike Street, and his relatives directed addicts to steal particular items from downtown shops, including 52 Armani suits from Nordstrom and hundreds of pieces of glass art. They then fenced those stolen items through the pawnshop or through an eBay account, police and prosecutors said. Police said they were tipped off to the operation more than two years ago, but believe the criminal activity has been going on for at least 13 years.”

    That’s your idea of “colorful, authentic character”? I bet if you were one of their victims you’d feel different.

    And the Hard Rock Cafe is evil?

    If it was part of the Market or a local restaurant that was being replaced by the Hard Rock then I’d be right with you, but in this case I think you’re a little off base.

  19. Good Grief

    God forbid someone try and make some of those blocks around the market less of a shithole.

    While the HRC might not be the absolute optimal choice, I wish them luck and success. Those blocks of Pike and Pine are embarassments.

  20. Joshua

    Yeah, I’m not a frequenter of the Hard Rock, but I would much rather see them there than the old pawn shop. While it’s not the ideal use, it will definitely contribute to a better atmosphere there and spur better retailing within that entire area.

    Also, they likely only have a 10 year lease with some 5 year options. I’ll be surprised if that business is around in 10 years, but the building will be. 10 years is not that long in the history of the city, but the types of changes it could help facilitate in that time could last much longer. When it goes out of business, Urban Visions will have a much better building w/fewer TIs to amortize into a lease and therefore more leeway in who they can lease it to. City development is all about the long-game.

  21. Samantha Thomas

    my family is really interested in Coffee Franchise like Starbucks. we are still saving money for the franchise cost.-`*

  22. Jimm

    This site is a walk-through for all the information you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Look here, and you’ll definitely find it.

  23. hinrustjum

    Как всегда великое количество ресурсов предлагает вам сохранить видео бесплатно, прямо здесь и сейчас. Вам требуется смотреть видео online, но вас не устраивают вышеописанные недостатки. А для таких ресурсов важно не содержание, а объем. 3.

  24. Bethany Bennett

    my mom has a coffe franchise near seattle and she earns a lot from it.*~

  25. Entertainment


  26. Kaitlyn Rogers

    i would like to put up a coffee franchise in our area coz people here love to sip coffe-~`

Leave a Reply