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The Athenian Inn from “Sleepless in Seattle”

Aug 16th, 2010 | By | Category: Movie Locations

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Another location at the very top of my Must-Stalk-While-in-the-Pacific-Northwest list was the Athenian Inn Seafood Restaurant and Bar, which made a brief, but quite memorable appearance in the 1993 romantic comedy Sleepless in Seattle.  I had been absolutely dying to stalk the restaurant for what seemed like years for a couple of reasons.  One, because as I’ve mentioned before, Sleepless has long been one of my very favorite movies.  And two, because fellow stalker Kerry had previously visited the place and told me that there were numerous photographs of the filming displayed on the restaurant’s walls.  As you can imagine, I could NOT wait to see those photographs for myself!  So, after grabbing a coffee at the very first Starbucks store, which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, Kerry, her husband Jim, the Grim Cheaper, and I all headed across the street to Pike Place Market, where the Athenian Inn has been located for over a century.  Yes, you read that right!  The Athenian Inn, which was founded by the three Pappadakis brothers, who hailed from Greece – hence the “Athenian” in the name -  first opened over one hundred years ago, in 1909.  Originally a bakery/candy shop/luncheonette, the establishment later transformed into a bar (in 1933, it was one of the first places in Seattle to be granted a liquor license to serve wine and beer) and then eventually into a full-blown restaurant.  In 1964, the Inn was purchased by Bob and Louise Cromwell, who added a lounge and a balcony to the premises, and although Bob passed away in 2002, Louise still owns and manages the place to this day.  You can read a more comprehensive history of the restaurant here.

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In Sleepless in Seattle, the Athenian Inn was the restaurant where Sam Baldwin (aka Tom Hanks) and his friend Jay (aka Rob Reiner) discussed dating in the ‘90s, “cute butts”, and the mystery that is tiramisu.  And even though the scene that was filmed there took up only one minute and thirty-eight seconds of screen time, it made such an impact on the movie-going public that seventeen years later the place is STILL one of Seattle’s top tourist attractions!  Isn’t that amazing?!?!  Less than two minutes of screen time in a movie that is almost two decades old and the restaurant is still drawing crowds!  INCREDIBLE!  It reminds me of what happened with Magnolia Bakery in New York – a cupcakery that appeared in a one minute and seventeen second scene from an episode of Sex and the City which first aired over a decade ago, and fans are STILL lining up around the block to catch a glimpse of the place.  I think it is so incredibly cool when a movie or television show creates such a monumental impact like that!  But I digress.

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The Sleepless in Seattle scene that was filmed at the Athenian Inn was shot at the northwest corner of the restaurant’s counter, right near the main entrance.  

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Not that I really need to explain that here, though, because the restaurant actually has plaques which denote the exact location where filming took place.  How incredibly cool is that????  Oh, how I wish EVERY filming location would honor its cinematic history by doing something similar.  LOVE IT!!!  LOVE IT!!!  LOVE IT!!!

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And fellow stalker Kerry and I, of course, just had to recreate the Sleepless scene while we were there!

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Thankfully, little has changed at the Athenian Inn in the more than 17 years since Sleepless was filmed there and the place looks pretty much EXACTLY the same today as it did then.

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In fact, from what I’ve been able to discern, it seems that not much has been changed in the more than hundred years since the historic restaurant first opened.  The neon sign that was first hung over the establishment’s front door by the Pappadakis brothers in 1933 is still hanging in the very same spot to this day!  So darn cool! 

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I honestly cannot recommend stalking the Athenian Inn enough!  The food was great, the prices reasonable, the views of Elliot Bay amazing, and the staff super friendly.  Not to mention the many nods to the restaurant’s cinematic history which are proudly displayed on the walls.  :)

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  :)

Stalk It: The Athenian Inn from Sleepless in Seattle is located at 1517 Pike Place, inside Pike Place Market, in Seattle.  You can visit the restaurant’s official website here.  In Sleepless, Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner sat at the northwest corner of the restaurant’s counter.

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4 comments

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  1. Miss Rocky says:

    I love the Athenian & go there whenever in Seattle as love love love this place–late afternoon looking out the windows & when sunny the sail boats or ferries..it is so peaceful & the happy hour menu is the bomb-the sweet potato fries with garlic & bleu cheese are my fav, I think & salmon skewers…I love the Market Place as always so much to see there & in that area-but the charm of the Athenian is one of a kind..

  2. Lavonna says:

    LOVE the movie! The history is amazing..I’d love to visit this area but I seem to always end up in NY or California…LOL Great post…count down to wedding..HOW EXCITING!


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