Nice article. Who wrote it? The Last Exit was an important part of my life, as I am sure it was for many of us. Is there a way to communicate to former Exiteers? Margie Cain Walker Edwards

Yes, A great article. Come on over to and join us in a last exit thread. Bones

I enjoyed the Last Exit while I was stationed at Ft Lewis, I would run up there on the weekends and play go, eat, Chess and was introduced to Shogi. Great place, Im 43 now and was planning a vacation to WA and wanted to go back. I was real sorry to hear it closed. I was last there in summer of 1985, great place. It was once on the cover of the USCF (United States Chess Federation) mag. I always wanted to thank the guy who taught me Shogi, great game fun playing there. I remember the food not being to bad. But that is a lot of years. Gary Newman

Great article. I was a regular in the early 80s and remember how the waitress (my favorite was named Andrea) would sometimes come over to the regulars (who would hang out there for hours on a mug of coffee) and whisper that Irv had arrived in a bad mood and everyone should order something... Jack

I hung out at the Last Exit for years. I remember hearing that the tables (marble topped) came surplus from the “girl’s reformatory”. I do not know if this is true. Can anyone say for sure? - Stan

  • Not true. The tabletops were the stall dividers in the old King County Courthouse. No joke. - Jmabel 03:31, 23 June 2007 (UTC)

From time to time, Miriam Rader and the whole "Magic Mountain" crowd could be seen at the "Last Exit". Does anyone know what became of Miriam? Miriam's father, Melvin Rader, was a noteworthy UW philosophy professor:

Miriam is currently living in Palma de Mallorca, where she does some cello teaching. She retired a few years ago from her job as cellist in the Orquestra de las Islas Baleares. -- Dick Edelstein

"The story {of Melvin Rader} is one that should be retold frequently, for it is a reminder of how, even in America, good citizens can be falsely persecuted under the guise of patriotism." --Wenatchee World, Nov. 13, 1969

Suggestion: An article on the "Magic Mountain"? (The Magic Mountain was Miriam Rader's large three-story house which she operated as a politically aware commune located in the heart of university housing. Hundreds of mostly young people stayed there over the years.) "Magic Mountain" could make an interesting article. And there are certainly enough people out there with memories of it to generate its share of article contributions. - Stan

I thought the connection of the name to the novel was because Irv was a closeted gay and the book had something to do with gay subculture. I was almost denied a job by a homophobe when I put the Last Exit on Brooklyn down on my resume.

Photo ban / Hot apple pie Edit

I visited the Last Exit frequently while attending UW from 1978 - 1982 (I lived in the nearby dorms). I'm surprised to read about the ban on photography -- Irv let me shoot a short dramatic film there one night, complete with camera, mic boom, and lights. We were there shooting for hours and it was crowded as usual. Maybe some time I'll scan some frames and post them, as I have good shots of the inside full of people.

Also, I'm surprised there's no mention of the hot apple pie with ice cream (I think it was also available with melted cheddar cheese on top). That's what I ate there nearly every time, and at least in my memory that was the "signature dish."

- Adam

More or less nothing seems worth doing, but oh well. I just don't have anything to say now.

As a chess player, I hung out at the Last Exit from the time I was a teenager (about 1975) through long years as an undergrad and at the law school. It introduced me to espresso, long before espresso entered the popular culture. But I too thought the signature dish was the hot apple pie, with either cheese or ice cream.

The day the UW closed it down was a great tragedy. Definitely the most treasured eating/cultural spot in my memory, bar none.

Matt71.231.163.219 08:18, 7 September 2008 (UTC)

great article! Edit

this article rocks. i'm totally new to wikia but know a bit about wikipedia. do you guys think it needs some section headers? i was gonna put some in but thought it might damage the flow

Bridgipedia 23:50, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

I take proud responsibility for the Eno music...never did find that tape when I finally quit. Irv and I really didn't see eye to eye on the whole music issue, but at certain times it was up to the cook's discretion what got played there, and I pushed Eno and the Talking Heads as much as Vivaldi or those wonderful chanting monks. ````maddog 01:39, 17 October 2008 (UTC)maddog

old exiter Edit

Great to know there's folks who still remember the place. Spent a great deal of time in the district, and the Exit was a real oasis. 1968 was when i washed dishes there, anyone remember concertina cathy. My name is Doug, and they were truly memroble times.

I was a waiter at the Last Exit Edit

during the school year of 85 to 86 and the school year of 86 to 87. I don't know if it was me or several of us in the wait staff that decided to make the Apple Pie ala mode, apple pie ALA MODE by piling on huge amounts of the soft ice cream on the apple pie. Anyway, I know that there were several people who liked it so much that they would make a point of sitting at one of my tables just to order the huge apple pie ala mode. Fun times. I really enjoyed working there most nights (except on weekend nights when the place was just a madhouse). I thought the university did a disservice to the community by not renewing the lease after Irv's passing. At least that is what I heard happened. I think there might have been strained relations between Irv and the Univeristy because of the some of the "activities" that would occur there during business hours:-) There are many fond memories of the place, I met a lot of great and intersting people and some friends. Good times and fond memories of the place for me except for the cigarette smoke:-)

What a wonderful article. Thanks so much. -jon

I used to play chess there Edit

Played there for many years, old opponents included "Unkle Vik" Victors Pupols, Dave Zik, Alvin Lofton, Al Walker Sid Clark and many others, including the occasional mismatch with titled players, like Georgi Orlov. Great times. At one point virtually all my friends were from there. I think my longest day there was 14 hours!

We had the phenomenon of "chess widow", one earmark of which was the call home to the girlfriend: "Honey, just a couple more games then i'll be right home." which was seldom believed and less seldom honored.

Those are great memories.

My name is Michael Grondin, and i welcome chat from fellow Exiteers.

fond memories of the last exit Edit

I discovered the Last Exit in 1968 and went there fairly regularly for a year or so. I met a lot of wonderful people there: colorful characters of all descriptions including an early computer geek named Dorsey, lots of the original people who founded the Helix underground newspaper and KRAB FM like Paul Dorpat and Walt Crowley, a strange man named Ralph who looked like Prince Valiant, and "Silky," who had a hit album in Europe but was really Dave Miller from Bellevue. I particularly liked the licorice tea, which I would sip with my friend Sylvia Eaton, who never spoke above a whisper. I was supposed to be going to the University of Washington, so I lived a few blocks north on Brooklyn with a roommate. We had some wild times, to be sure. I remember some of the poetry readings, especially John Edge, as well as a friend of Van Blacklock's who wrote miraculous poetry, but I cant remember his name! The hippies were in their heyday, and strange costumes and hairdo's were the rage. We used to sit, drink tea, smoke cigarettes, and "rap" about all the weirdness in the world for hours. Years later, probably just before the Exit closed, I went there in the middle of the day and found old friends. It was almost eerie. One day I stopped for lunch, parking in the back, and walked down the steep back stairs, and sitting there was Silky! I still have probably the only copy of his hit album from Europe, as well as some recordings of his concerts there in safe keeping for him. Another time I took a young friend to the Exit. I had been telling him about the wonderful variety of human beings to be found there, and when we walked in, there was Ralph, sitting at one of the big round tables in the center of the room, as if twenty years had not passed, and he was still the Prince Valiant of the Last Exit. I remember Cathy Chamberlain well also, whose wild personality lit up the room. She was the first person I knew to have a tattoo, and she would hike her skirt to show anyone: seems like it was a little dagger high on her hip. John Edge told me she became a performer in New York, and I would love to talk with her, or any of the people mentioned above, as well as Ron Glassett, Ed Rhoda, and anybody else who was young and free back in the day!-- 16:22, 7 June 2009 (UTC)kristin jensen, camano island, wa

Reasons for the move Edit

The UW had wanted to close the exit for years. In his last lease Irv agreed to a clause that he later told me was a huge mistake. This clause allowed the U to close the Exit if the building were to be used for an "educational" purpose. They were required to give a one year notice. When Irv died we got the notice and the new owner banned me from letting anyone know about the problem. He was afraid of not being able to find a new location because others would jump in and take any available locations.

I am sure that we would have had a large group of well connected people argue for our continuation had I been allowed to leak the information. Oh well. 01:17, 14 June 2009 (UTC)David Johnson

Magic Mountain for ´´Stan´´ Edit

This is Miriam Rader at I would like to hear from people active in sixties in Seattle. I have been living in Spain since 1970.

Oops, misprint Edit

I have been living in Spain since 1973.

Magic Mountain for ´´Miriam´´. . . . . . Hey wow! Great! Good to hear from you - this is Stan the Man. I sent you an email. Check you damn Yahoo email account girl! Or search for me on the web.

Miriam, I have tried to send you emal.
Please email me:
Stan Shankman
Message for Dick Edelstein: Hi, this is Stan. Please contact me regarding Mirium. (My email above.)
- Stan

Leroy Capili Edit

A very good friend of mine, Leroy Capili, pulled espresso's at The Exit. He and Irv were good friends. We would visit Lee and have the over-stuffed tuna fish sandwich, followed by the apple pie ala mode. A food tripper's delight. When Lee wasn't pulling cups of espresso and bussing tables, he was was designing restaurant menu's and hanging out with local Seattle artist's. One of his jobs was to coordinate the art that was for sale and displayed on the walls at the Exit. His secret passion was to jump with his old Airborne Ranger friends from Ft. Lewis. Lee was actually a retired US Army major. He would show up in his old uniform with his parachute and they would let him jump with them on the weekends. He always kept his parachute rig just inside the front door of his house waiting for the phone call. He and Irv later set up a small Italian restaurant down on Eastlake overlooking Lake Union. And yes, Lee talked about the marble table tops coming from the court house.

Irv... Shed-key... Closing times... Hank Williams... Group portrait... Irv transcendent... Ice cream... Roman... Edit

Yeah, I worked there 85-86. I think Irv hired me when I was unemployable and let me go because I'd gotten some self-respect back. He said as much, too. He also told me about his preference for naming the place "The New World Cafe." He said he'd been talked out of it by someone who didn't end up staying in the venture. I worked 3 breakfasts (making soup for the day, of course), a lunch, and a close. The rhythm of the day was in the waves of customers, with maintenance shop workers in early, secretaries in on coffee break, then a busy mixed lunch crowd, and wiggier and fringier types as the day wore on. The mixing of all these demographics with a liberal allotment of tolerance and acceptance made the place really special. It was also across the street from the ethnic cultural center. Irv said that that proximity combined with cheap refillable pots of good tea brought the international students in. The theater was right next door, too, and the theater artists, hands, and goers would also keep the mix of people lively.

Remember the key to the shed, on its giant neck-ring? Or how about the nightly pot banging and announcement from the top of the back stairs that "The Last Exit is now closing. We will open again tomorrow morning at seven." Words to the effect that 'You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here' were often added, and the announcements were often done with great fanfare and style, sometimes to ribbing or cheering. Shy or quiet persons doing this duty were known to rise to levels of bombast they hadn't suspected in themselves.

A note on music: Irv did consider Hank Williams to be worthy of Exit play along with Zamfir and Mozart. Your Cheating Heart was known to rock the smoky air from time to time.

Someone organized a big group photoshoot of Exiteers through the years back in the early 90s. Can anyone post a copy? I think we all stood out in the University parking lot and it was shot from the back patio or a ladder.

I think of Irv as a transcendent personality in this way: He had a very prickly side to his character, and was frequently irritated or irked. These traits could have kept a lesser soul deeply isolated. Yet Irv knew in his heart that people were to be respected and appreciated, and he over-rode his prickliness to bring many, many people together in a space and time where deeply meaningful relationships were formed. In this way I believe he was a great soul who transcended his own limitations. I remember we gathered at the Exit after Irv died. We stood in a circle and told stories, then sang Ripple. It was a good fit for the man and his crowd.

p.s. Is that Roman aka Jon who put even more ice cream than ever on everything? I'm in Connecticut, look me up on FaceBook. -Greg75.27.146.162 03:31, December 7, 2009 (UTC)

Exiteer Edit

So. In the early/middle 70's I was in the Navy, stationed at Sand Point (a seaplane base without seaplanes) in support to a ship that didn't exist; they were still building it at Boeing. Every morning I would be driven to Renton, "ship built yet?", "no", salute, and back to Sand Point. This took about an hour. The rest of my time I lived at the Exit and environs. Kept me as sane as possible. Learned how to play go. I already knew how to play go, at the exit I learned how to play go. My memory of the time was that the espresso was an independent operation, a big espresso machine on a rolling cart. Episodically the lunatic that ran it got into a snit with Irv (I guess) and would move onto the sidewalk; in a day or two he'd be back inside. Didn't matter. For a coffe house nobody drank much coffee. Seattle in the 70's, pre-Microsoft, was what everyone thought San Francicso was. Seattle has changed. I've changed. The Exit is gone. exeunt omnes

Back then a smart assed teenager girl coming in everyday, hoping that Irv wouldnt kick me out. Edit

Now, a middle aged housewife with two kids, and thinking about the wild times that started out at the Last Exit. Yeah, I was one of those (sometimes) unwelcomed teenage brats coming in almost everyday. We sat on top of the rail or near the heater, depending on the seating availability. But the evening would always start out at the Last Exit. There was always a thick haze of smoke floating over everyone, and on rainy weekend evenings the windows steamed up, congested. It seemed almost like a scene from Oliver Twist. There were groups. Chess and Go players. Wait staff that still hung out during off hours. Lost college brats from the UW. And, among them all, the ones that stood out, were (oh, yes) the "REGULARS". Day in and day out. I was one of them, or at least until I left for college. Danny, Jeff, Dreesh, Suzie, Adam, Chaos, Kim, Tim, Lav, Scott, Lucinda, Young Mi (and her sidekick boyfriend), Shannon, and more. You know who you are. The shameless bunch of us that were addicted, and felt only at home when at the Exit. And, then after the Exit we would go to someone's trashed up apartment and hang out even longer. As if until 2am hanging out with us, wasn't enough. Of course, there was alcohol, drugs, lots of music, and lots of wild uninhibited fun. It was our youth. I miss those days. Now, if any of you remember the party at Castle Grayskull, then you know what I mean. So, where is everyone? - Sona

Last Exit was a haven for this hitch hiking teenager Edit

In the 69 or 70I hitched from the California Coast up through Oregon and Washington, eventually making it to Canada and back again. I was a lone female and am very lucky to have made it over those months unscathed. When I got to Seattle I somehow ended up at the Last Exit. I got a coffee there every day and wondered wtf I was doing and where I would end up.

Now almost 60 years old, I have very fond memories of the place, it was an important haven and sanctuary for me during a very turbulent time in my life.

I exist because of the Last Exit! Edit

My parents met at the Last Exit in the early 1970s.

My mom told me the story many times. She was a waitress there, and my dad walked in with a friend wearing a long coat and a shaved head, looking like an East German spy. Another waitress that was a friend of my mother's elbowed her to point my dad out, and said, "Isn't he gorgeous?" He sat in my mom's section but didn't have enough money for whatever it was he ordered so my mom (as she put it) "lent him the money and took him home with me."

My mom didn't work there long (and they split up before I can remember) but my dad continued to hang out there playing chess until the end. I spent a good deal of my childhood watching him play, or bothering all the other patrons (I can still picture the tarot card lady and the artist who always did colorful swirls in his portraits), or getting my dad to give me a stack of quarters for the arcade across the alley.

Some of the memories that are coming to me right now: ordering toasted bagels, reading (but not always understanding) the graffiti in the restroom, playing under the back staircase (how gross that must have been!), the day I accidentally sat on Yasser Seirawan's lap (I assumed it was my dad and didn't look first), and the night my mom called for me on the payphone by the stairs to let me know she was going into labor with my half sister.

Any of you old chess players will remember my dad: his name was Austin Pearlman -- the "king of the potzers." He died in 1996 and reading about the Last Exit makes me miss him even more than I already do. Thanks for bringing back these memories. 22:05, March 5, 2012 (UTC)Jessica

I worked there in 72 to 76. Edit

I worked at the Last Exit for four years, beginning I believe, in 1972. The day I started was the day the employee's went on strike. Needless to say, this put me in a hell of a bind. The others, some who had been there for years, believed Irv was making great money and was simply cheap. On the other hand, the Exit was difficult for long term employee's to leave. It was simply a great place to work (as I was to learn). The othe employees viewed me as a possible strike breaker, and tragically, Irv told me that if I didn't show up for for my first scheduled day, i should not come back. It ended when Irv opened the financial books for all of us to see, and he was basically making nothing! After that, the discussion seemed to focus on Irv himself, and why he ran the place at all. This is still somewhat of a mystery to me, as Irv was really nothing like the Exit, or any of it's employees or patrons. I met some wonderful people there, and they literally became my family. It was a great place. My best to all Richard M.

You could join the facebook group at

lots of old exiteers. 04:12, May 20, 2012 (UTC) David Johnson