David Meinert, like all the great residents of Seattle, is doing everything in his power to help those in need during the Coronavirus pandemic. Seattle was one of the first major hotspots of the pandemic in America. As a restaurant owner, Meinert’s businesses have been impacted greatly. Today, David Meinert will look back at the history of one of his restaurants, The Mecca Cafe. If there’s one thing this history proves it’s that tough times don’t last but tough people do.
The 5 Point Café and the Mecca Café are both owned by Meinert and have some of the richest histories of all the Seattle dining establishments. The Mecca Café got its start in 1930 just a year after C. Preston Smith and his wife Frances took over the 5 Point Café in Belltown. Both restaurants truly started to gain their footing as premium Seattle establishments at the end of prohibition in 1933. With both restaurants gaining a loyal following, competition leveraged their relationships with local politicians to pull away the liquor license of the Mecca Café. Local police told the Mecca that they could regain their liquor license by paying them $1,000. C. Preston Smith wouldn’t budge. He and his wife decided to take on the Washington State Liquor Board themselves. When they eventually won their battle, the bar reopened to more popular than ever with a full crowd of loyal, cheering customers.
David Meinert says while there’s nothing quite like the current situation for restaurants. World War II for the Mecca Café brought about a terrible time in the nation’s history for food establishments. Food had to be rationed and it was up to every member of the community to work together to ensure no one went hungry. Because the owners were so committed to helping their staff through a difficult time, they developed a loyal staff that would stay with the café long after the war was finished.
The next big chapter in the Meca Café’s history came in 1975 when Preston’s son took over the family business. Much like his parents, Dick Smith would go through some trying times with the Café and the local community. As the owner of a historic establishment in Seattle, Dick always felt it was important to look out for the local community. One of the biggest issues during his tenure as owner was that local kids had nowhere to play. Much like his parents, Dick was never afraid to stand up to injustice. The restaurant spent $3,000 to build a playground for the kids to play. The creation of the park was technically illegal, so it only added to the mystique of the restaurant.
When the grunge scene hit Seattle in the 90’s, the rebellious history of the Mecca Café made it the perfect hangout spot for local musicians. When the grunge era came and went, the Mecca Café went through lean years yet again. David Meinert purchased the restaurant to return it to its former glory. Up until Covid-19, all guests could once again enjoy a stiff drink with lively conversation amongst friends. While the party may temporarily on hold, David Meinert promises that the Mecca Café will rise once again.