Thirty-Five Years on Broadway

Quick, name the number of restaurants you know that have been around for 35 years. It’s hard, right? In restaurant years, 35 is like 105. Not many make it that long. Over that stretch of time, neighborhood demographics change, and restaurants must show an ability to adapt to these changes while maintaining consistency in both service and quality. But excellent food is what brings people back to those who stand the test of time.

Pagliacci’s second-ever location has stood up to all those challenges. Opened in 1983, on what was then the bustling end of Capitol Hill’s Broadway Avenue, the store was initially a pizzeria by day and a trattoria by night. Quick grab-and-go slices were available at a street-facing walk-up window. The trattoria served handmade pasta and offered full-service, but it was eventually closed and turned into a seating area. One thing was clear: Pizza was what made Pagliacci special to its customers. Thirty-five years later it’s still all about the pizza.

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Wayne Russell has been coming to the store regularly for 15 years. He says, “I love the selection, and I never get tired of eating pizza.”

Another regular, local photographer Tim Durkan, has come to the store for years. He first got a taste for Pagliacci as a teen. He earned spending money babysitting for the children of Pagliacci founder Dorene Centioli-McTigue and she’d bring food home from Pagliacci and share it with him. As an adult, he moved to Capitol Hill and has been visiting the nearby store for pepperoni pizza slices ever since. We’re more than a little humbled by the support of loyal customers like Tim and Wayne.

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Adrian Aramburu, the general manager of the location, has worked at Pagliacci for 20 years. “I love the diverse range of customers, our loyal regulars, and the unpredictability of the flow,” he says. “It’s always lively and interesting, which keeps me on my toes. We can be unexpectedly quiet one minute, then suddenly 30 people show up for slices. We just try to be ready and to keep making the same pizza that has kept the crowd coming for so long.”

John Clifford, Director of Operations for Pagliacci, started as a crew member at the Broadway store in 2003. “The first year I started we had a group march in the Gay Pride parade. Someone found circular towels and dyed them the colors of the rainbow. We walked the parade tossing the towels just like we toss pizza.” He also remembers the day Peter Buck came in. He ordered a few slices and read a bunch of music magazines, leaving them behind. “I scored a bunch of reading material,” John says.

Pride Weekend is the major event at the store, and they always come up with a new way to celebrate. In the past, they’ve hosted Pride parties, offered rainbow-colored pizzas, made rainbow-colored dough for a tossing table, and distributed headbands.

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Through ups, downs and all the changes in Seattle, we’re honored to be part of this spectacular, growing city. And our Broadway store, with its vantage point in the vibrant heart of one of Seattle’s most lively streets for 35 years, has been witness to plenty of excitement. We are looking forward to witnessing more excitement and change.