Nostalgia is undefeated. I often mention this when thinking of restaurants or food from halcyon days. Because nostalgia does not lose. Look to the groundswell of love that the Old Spaghetti Factory received in the wake of the news of their upcoming closing as Exhibit A. What does our fondness for a restaurant many of us have not been to in years say about ourselves and say about Seattle?
When I heard about the Old Spaghetti Factory closing this winter, it wasn't overly surprising in that the building was sold last year. As is apt to happen in the Seattle of recent vintages, the sale will likely result in a new high-rise; a mixed use building with industrial touches and awash in gunmetal gray and steel. But it took the landowners (and the Old Spaghetti Factory's corporate brass) some time and the announcement finally came; after 46 years, Seattle's Old Spaghetti Factory would be closing on December 23rd after a final holiday season.
While it's not surprising for a building to be demolished to make way for something new and fresh, what was surprising was the amount of love that the Old Spaghetti Factory received the last few days.
While the food won't entirely won't be missed (we can thank them for adding mizithra cheese and spumoni ice cream to our food lexicon), their version of Italian food has its own lane. Seattle has a host of excellent restaurants that do Italian food better, but what is it about the Old Spaghetti Factory? Then it hit me; nostalgia is undefeated. For those that went to the waterfront Old Spaghetti Factory over the years, you likely ate there as part of a birthday party. Or amongst friends in high school and college. Possibly in that funky trolley in the dining room. More than likely with a large group. Unmistakably surrounded by tourists that didn't know where else to go. Waiting in that massive lobby, ready to throw down with some Italian food. And those memories can never be taken away from you, as you embrace them fondly.
But the nostalgia for eating at the Old Spaghetti Factory is only part of the story. Seattle is changing. Losing something like a local restaurant that many have fond memories of only exacerbates the notion that change is happening. And while the Old Spaghetti Factory wasn't local, the Seattle waterfront location was one of the first to open in the chain. You see this evolution all over Seattle. The Seattle Times had an article last week where Seattle has more construction cranes dotting the skyline than any other U.S. city. Soon there will be many more on the waterfront. But the funny thing about change is that in a few years, many people won't remember the Old Spaghetti Factory being there. Do you remember what was on the land where the Olympic Sculpture Park stands now?
You have less than two months to say goodbye to the Old Spaghetti Factory. Likely the food won't be like you remember and the feeling will be different, but you still have your memories of eating there. And those won't go away. Look around and take in Seattle now. It's changing by the minute. Because you know what else is undefeated? Father Time.