A few weeks ago at Ray's Boathouse, I ran into a friend who works for ESPN. He is a person who rides his bike long distances for fun; he wears fleece. He doesn't have a boat, but he seems like he should. Despite all this, he has a fine sense of humor, he is not passive-aggressive, he knows when to go at a four-way stop, and he is someone you're always happy to see. To find him upstairs in the cafe at Ray's on a sunny day was pleasing, if not at all surprising. He and his hale-looking friends had already eaten and were preparing to depart. How was it? I asked.
"It's Ray's," he said with equanimity.
Ray's is Ray's. Ray's has been Ray's, underneath its vertical red neon R - A - Y - S sign, for forever. Destroying the very building that houses it could not destroy the Ray's-ness of Ray's; Ray's burned down, was rebuilt, and remained Ray's. You would have to burn down Puget Sound itself, or at least the part radiating out from Shilshole that provides Ray's famous floor-to-ceiling (and, on the deck upstairs, floor-to-sky) view...
There are fish everywhere upstairs at Ray's: this giant swirly-painted fish, a copper fish on a freestanding fireplace, a metal mesh fish over the bar, wooden fish schooling above and around the kitchen, fish sconces, fish restroom signs. (They are probably all salmon; I'm no ichthyologist.)