Looking back on the roots of the Belltown Pan tradition

The well-loved community event started in 1978.


The original root pie pan is now a commemorative plaque on the corner of Bell Street and First Avenue.

Photo by SEAtoday Staff

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Sure, we’re all fond of Punxsutawney Phil, but what if we told you there’s another highly loveable, quirky holiday in early February that’s rooted in Belltown.

To a lot of longtime locals, February 2 is not only Groundhog Day, but Root Pie Daya day of community and good eating.

It all started in 1978

A few decades ago, greasy spoon Belltown Café was well known for trading food for art pieces with locals.

One of these trades was made with a bell-shaped baking pan (love the neighborhood-nspired pun here) made to fit inside a commercial oven. The cafe owners decided to use the pan as their restaurant sign. But they also took it down every Groundhog Day to clean and re-use itto make a giant root pie that was then shared with the neighborhood.

The pan would then return to its post above the restaurant’s entrance on February 3 as a reminder of the community’s love for each other.

This potato, carrot, and onion-filled tradition continued until 1982. The Belltown Cafe closed a year later and the building burned down in 1987.

But the love kept cooking

The Belltown Pan remains a neighborhood symbol as a landmarked sign at the corner of Bell Street and First Avenue where the restaurant once stood.

But locals still remember the tradition and appreciated it so much it was resurrected four years ago, this time with a big buy-in from other hangouts like the Black Cat, Cyclops, and Macrina Bakery.

The last Root Pie Day was held in 2020, before well... you know. But we hope we might see a return soon.

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