Katie Downs first opened her doors on October 17th, 1982. With breathtaking views of Commencement Bay and prime real estate on the Ruston Way waterfront, founders Mike Ebert and Dr. John Hilger knew they had something truly special on their hands. They decided to name their new restaurant after Ebert’s grandmother, who lived in Ireland for fifty years before immigrating to the United States. Rain or shine, Katie had a full stein of beer nearly every day of her adult life. So, it seemed fitting to make her namesake establishment a 21 and up tavern.
It was also with Katie in mind that they decided to commission a distinctly Irish building. They enlisted renowned Pacific Northwest architect Dusty Trail, who had the idea to imitate the watchtowers that dotted the emerald-green landscape of the Irish coast. It was on towers like these that townspeople would search the thrashing water for their loved ones, returning from sea voyages. The building he envisioned and brought to life is the one we still occupy today.
In 1989, Dr. Hilger passed the reins to his son, Dan, who introduced hard liquor and creative new items to the menu, with the goal of creating a unique sense of camaraderie that is the hallmark of the Katie Downs experience. Dan has also overseen expansion of our over-the-water deck, to allow the greatest number to eat, drink, and talk just feet above the Puget Sound.
Today, Dan runs Katie Downs with the help of his son, Luke, in what is truly a multi-generational business. In 2018, they decided to change from an order-at-the-bar format to a full service model, to allow for an even more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
At Katie Downs, we’re always aiming to make the dining experience more efficient and enjoyable, while maintaining the down-to-earth and charming atmosphere we know Katie Downs herself would have enjoyed. Whether you’re in the mood for a single drink or a full pie, we hope you come by to enjoy the charming, inviting and jubilant environment that our family has worked so hard to create. Check out our menu or get directions, and stop by for a bite tonight.