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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Let It Be Nothing

posted by on March 15 at 12:53 PM

Llyod’s Rocket is dead again:
a2eeee7273f7.jpg I think it died this year. But for much of 2005 it was slowly revived/remodeled, and for much (if not all) of 2006 it barely lived as a restaurant/bar and coffee drive-thru. I visited the Rocket once (it’s across the street from a bar I love, Saba) and was impressed by its ghostly crowd of empty tables and barstools. Lots of loud jazz art covered its walls, and there were lots things to do (flat-screen TVs, happy music, a posh portico) for the lots of people who were not there. Instead, the place had five souls in it: three making up the staff; and two (myself and a friend) making up its customers.

Before Llyod’s Rocket was restored in 2005, Diana George wrote about it in this passage from a longer piece called “Empty,” which was published in The Organ, a now-defunct NW art journal:

On the tiny triangular plot formed by the three-way crossing of 12th, Boren, and Yesler sits the abandoned Lloyd’s Rocket building. From 1961 to 1995, it was a gas station run by Joe Lloyd. He closed the station a year before he died; his wife Erma owned the property until her death in 2001, when it passed to the Lloyds’ children. It was never more than a notional structure—some big-windowed walls; a flat, bi-level, stepped-down roof; two carport-like awnings; some columns. The irregular, sprawling building slid into decay over the years. Weeds sprang up, pigeons roosted in the empty service bays, tires were dumped in the lot. In 1998, a chain-link fence went up around the lot, to deter crime, and the empty building was boarded up with large murals painted on plywood. The murals, depicting Seattle’s African-American history, are said to have been painted by “kids;” a sign, now gone, labeled the effort the “Lloyd’s Rocket Beautification Project.” With its proximity to the Youth Detention Center (a little further up 12th), the beautification of Lloyd’s is ambiguous. The murals were only partly, if at all, an expression of community spirit; they were also graffiti control measures, and the same kids who painted them were also potentially subject to the sorts of civility laws that might have landed them in the detention center: laws against sitting, against postering, against graffiti. Nor did the murals halt or even slow the building’s decay, as they too grew bleached and weathered.

Entrepreneurs and developers of Seattle listen! Leave Lylod’s Rocket alone. Just let it rot. The place is good for pigeons, good for graffiti, good for nothing.

RSS icon Comments


I disagree on one point. It's good for bad graffiti, not good graffiti. You know, some indecipherable initials or words that takes ten minutes to figure out, yet means nothing to you once you do figure it out. I do agree it's best looking creepy. Every city needs creepiness.

Posted by him | March 15, 2007 1:04 PM

It's a weird, yes, creepy space. No real good way to drive in/out, seems not worth the trouble to cross the all-sides-busy traffic to get to. Doesn't belong to any of the four neighborhoods that vector out from it.

I applaud the effort to make a cool business there, but the people never really showed up to break Lloyd's out of the lonely choke-hold it's in.

Isn't this the perfect place for a fountain? A windmill? Machine gun tower? Something novel to enjoy as you blaze past.

Posted by Lloyd Clydesdale | March 15, 2007 1:26 PM

We tried in vain to visit there at least 3 different times, hoping it would amount to something and each time we were also the only customers there. And $28-$32 entrees? The whole enterprise was doomed from the start. The detail that always stuck out for me was the woman who was running the place, aside from being in entirely over her head, would park her ginormous RV in the parking lot right next to the coffee "shack." It lent a sort of meth lab aura to the already dying property.

Posted by Courtney | March 15, 2007 1:54 PM

If transit really is on the front burner now, the First Hill streetcar should be movin on up. First Hill got screwed by ST, they owe em a streetcar.

That triangle is where it would turn from 12th to Boren. Yesler is an obvious spot for a station. With increased foot traffic, it should be able to support at least a minimart.

Posted by Some Jerk | March 15, 2007 1:57 PM

courtney, your comment has melted me. i no longer have any bad feelings for you. the RV detail is priceless and says it all.

Posted by charles | March 15, 2007 1:59 PM

streetcar stop or pea patch - the folks in little saigon would have a riot of greens there in 2 seconds flat.

Posted by Max Solomon | March 15, 2007 2:00 PM

fried chicken and burgers - cheap and good

the best coffee in the city - great fries

hot beef san - and chicken fried steak

few places to find the good stuff anymore

Posted by ed dippy | March 15, 2007 2:01 PM

My father worked at a business several
blocks north on Jackson, and I vividly
remember Mr. Lloyd and my Dad talking
about the neighborhood, sports, us kids and whatever pleased them when our Ford stopped at the station for gas or repairs.

There was once a lot of comfort and stability at Lloyd's Rocket, and I
miss it. That warmth and security
doesn't exist any longer and the current state of Lloyd's symbolizes


Posted by Jensen Interceptor | March 15, 2007 2:55 PM

We tried to visit them many times last year, and they weren't open during business hours. Definite business killer. Same with motherfucking CC's Burgers (I believe is closed down too).

Posted by dougnw | March 15, 2007 5:26 PM

Yes, CC's appears to be closed now -- illegible graffiti has bloomed on the east wall.

I'll miss their onion rings and burgers, especially the burger with extra bacon, hot links, and mayo.

Posted by Brendan | March 15, 2007 11:11 PM

I always said I'd get around to stopping in at Lloyd's. I noticed the perpetual RV, and thought it meant there must be a live band playing. The thing that caught my eye was the Red LCD ticker on the sign -- breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, you name it, they had it! Always seemed a little desperate, and now I know why.

Posted by kid icarus | March 16, 2007 10:49 AM

That's sad to hear. I used to live on 12th Ave and work in Rainier Valley, so I'd drive by every day. I was never really clear on whether it was open, since the remodeling seemed to go on forever (this was 2002-2004 when I lived on 12th).

If I drove to work now, I'd go by it every day, but I take the bus, so I haven't seen it very much over the past two years. I think the property did have potential, but it needed some really clear signage to attract commuters in the morning, and better marketing to attract lingerers and those in search of a sit-down meal. I didn't even know they served food, frankly.

Sad to see it go after all that time and effort.

Posted by Caffeist | March 17, 2007 1:12 PM

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