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Short Order Café Gives Way To European Cuisine

In the early 1900s, a hotel, saloon, and café occupied the block between Second and Sunset Avenues. For the past three decades, this space has been home to the Café de Paris, offering authentic French and European cuisine in downtown Edmonds.

Stepping off the steamer and onto the wharf, turn-of-the-century travelers to Edmonds would typically seek out something to eat, a place to sleep, and a few drinks…not necessarily in that order.

The first photo, circa 1905, shows the north side of Main Street (then known as George Street after ) between Second and Sunset Avenues. Then as now, many Main Street businesses were geared to the traveler, and this one was no exception.

At the time, the space was occupied by a combined short-order cafe, saloon and hotel. No name for the business is evident in this photo, and nothing links it with the Royal Hotel and Café, which would soon occupy the building with the tall false front directly east.

Note the wooden sidewalks and mud streets typical of Edmonds prior to 1910. The two streetlight fixtures shown in the photo are very different designs, probably installed by the individual business owners rather than the City of Edmonds. The one on the far corner bears more-than-passing resemblance to the replica streetlights lining Main Street today.

Note also the striped signs in front of the saloon, probably indicating the presence of a barber on the premises. Barbers at the time not only provided tonsorial services, but also performed minor surgery, including bloodletting and tooth extractions. While customers seeking these services likely bolstered their courage and obtained some anesthesia at the adjacent saloon, the best defenses against the pains of surgery remained stout hearts and sluggish nervous systems.

Today, the site is occupied by the , an Edmonds culinary institution. While the building superficially resembles the hotel in the first photo, it was constructed in 1983 as a restaurant. The Café de Paris opened in August of that year, and has been in continuous operation at this location ever since. Originally offering outside dining on a streetside veranda in addition to a French country-style dining room, this area was later enclosed. Diners on the former veranda can still see the original building façade.

Swiss-born came to the Café de Paris as a chef in the mid-1980s after a stint at Henry’s of Broadway on Seattle’s Capital Hill. Trained in the European tradition since age 16, Berclaz purchased the restaurant in 1990, and since then has filled the dual roles of chef and owner.

The rustic European atmosphere and Berclaz’s years of experience and consummate skill in the kitchen combine to produce a one-of-a-kind dining experience. In 2010, KOMO named the Café de Paris “The Best Romantic Date in Edmonds.”

As a hopeless romantic, I would have to agree.

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