The Stories

While the growth and development of Speakeasy was tracked in the press, its crew had their own insider experience of the phenomenon.


Let’s Put on a Show!

Let’s Put on a Show!

In September of 1994, my childhood friend, whom I knew as Gretchen Hage, came over to my Alki

Dirty Jobs (Done Dirt Cheap!)

Dirty Jobs (Done Dirt Cheap!)

I literally began at Speakeasy digging ditches, when I wasn’t trying to get my ‘Internet in a

Employee #1

Employee #1

I started hanging out there during the construction. Eventually, I decided Speakeasy needed

Internet in a Burlap Sack

Internet in a Burlap Sack

I was never paid, but got free coffee and colocation for my Linux web server. I also donated the

Hypnotizing Chickens

Hypnotizing Chickens

One day, I was walking from the Pike Place Market to our apartment in Belltown. On the way, there

Crushing Through Problems

Crushing Through Problems

One day, just days before our scheduled opening, our electrical inspector was doing the final

The Whole Internet Guide and Catalog

The Whole Internet Guide and Catalog

The day my girlfriend left for school back east, a friend took me out to cheer me up. He brought

Tripping Out on Coffee

Tripping Out on Coffee

I worked regular shifts in the cafe for some time, which I enjoyed in the extreme. I also got to

Infamous Alleyways

Infamous Alleyways

I’ve been a bass player in a few Seattle bands over the years, and back in the day I used to

Back to the Future

Back to the Future

When I moved to Seattle in early 1996, the Speakeasy had RAIN Mail terminals at the Allegro, among

Rolling Kegs with Humans in the Way

Rolling Kegs with Humans in the Way

I loved my early days working weekend nights at the Speakeasy Cafe, behind the bar in a packed

Didgeridoo, with Jam

Didgeridoo, with Jam

It was one of the most musical improvisation sessions I have participated in.

Press: Gathering ‘Round a Virtual Campfire – The Christian Science Monitor

Press: Gathering ‘Round a Virtual Campfire – The Christian Science Monitor

Speakeasy was the focus of an article by the Christian Science Monitor in May 1996.

Handwritten Resumes

Handwritten Resumes

I asked to talk to the manager and this short, attractive, direct woman in cutoff jeans and a

No Money for Adventure

No Money for Adventure

I have an intense romantic nostalgia for RAIN terminals. I was 17 when I moved to Seattle, and I

SST #1

SST #1

At the young age of 15 I attended an alternative school by the name of Puget Sound Community

Superfan Turned Crew

Superfan Turned Crew

I had always been a super-fan, lived in Ballard, came to Belltown all the time, used the,

Edward, Enchanted

Edward, Enchanted

I first met Mike and Gretchen when I was 18 and came in to the Cafe via my volunteer work with

Workin’ Girls

Workin’ Girls

It was the most relaxed work environment I’ve ever experienced and we always had a blast.

Feats of Derring-Do

Feats of Derring-Do

Belltown Killer was organized by myself and Adrienne Dailey. The participants (around 30 in the

The Final Song of Buddy Rose

The Final Song of Buddy Rose

Here’s my Killer saga; I was mercilessly taken out by Vain’s owner, Victoria Gentry.

Tickling the Ivories

Tickling the Ivories

One of my new roommates brought me down to the Speakeasy Cafe one night after Bumbershoot in early

From NetDesk to VP

From NetDesk to VP

I started off doing tech support in the evenings on the weekend and found I had a lot of

Somehow We Made a Company Happen

Somehow We Made a Company Happen

My favorite memories of working at Speakeasy all have to do with how ridiculous all of it seemed.

On Loan from the Wall of Sound

On Loan from the Wall of Sound

I adored that we had a record exchange going with Wall of Sound records across the street.

Improvisational Confidence

Improvisational Confidence

Mike actually had a printed out PowerPoint deck with our executive summary and overview. He was

From Arcade to Tech

From Arcade to Tech

I was working at an arcade in Seattle when a regular (bnelson) called to me from a mezzanine above

Loved the Feel

Loved the Feel

I worked in Kirkland and walked by the cafe on my way to the bus every day. I don’t think I

Ellis Island

Ellis Island

I started off on the sales team. I wasn’t the best sales person on the team, however, I was good

Hardware Hoochie and System Salvationist

Hardware Hoochie and System Salvationist

I was hired on as a technical support representative, but I was then quickly transitioned into

Work Hard, Play Hard

Work Hard, Play Hard

While working at Speakeasy, I also had the privilege of performing in a play on the Speakeasy Cafe

A Sense of Community

A Sense of Community

I think that sense of community and togetherness is one of the best things I took away from my

We Were a Family

We Were a Family

I lived right next door to Speakeasy, and I loved waking up, stumbling down the stairs, seeing my

Something for the Smarty Pants

Something for the Smarty Pants

you | wonder whether if | with eyes closed | we could bend spoons | or ascend stairs | by desire

Giddy and Free

Giddy and Free

There are too many memories! There were a lot of good times, but the best times were spent in

Go Do It

Go Do It

What I remember is that we had to move quickly. If you knew how to get the job done, the job was

Competing with Napster

Competing with Napster

I did a couple of music content ‘deals’ for Speakeasy, bundling eMusic and Rhapsody digital

Put it in Juakeem’s Box

Put it in Juakeem’s Box

At some point during my tenure as a barista, I became the curator of the cafe’s music

Guinness is Good for You

Guinness is Good for You

The first time I had seen Mike Apgar was when my manager walked our training group through the

Lateral Memories

Lateral Memories

A lot of my favorite memories are sort of lateral, involving people I met at the Speakeasy, or

The Oldest One Here

The Oldest One Here

I was hired at Speakeasy as a Controller in January 2001. Having spent my career at more

Threatening Gary Busey

Threatening Gary Busey

One of my favorite memories is when we held LANsanity in the old pool hall above the cafe.

We All Pulled Together

We All Pulled Together

I always loved the old building(s) we were in, but being in the 2nd Ave office during the

As the Windows Above Us Exploded

As the Windows Above Us Exploded

The rising air made the steel door to the staircase rattle like someone was trying to escape. When

Feeling Less Helpless, Together

Feeling Less Helpless, Together

A memory that stands out is getting a phone call from a night shift tech telling me that the cafe

A Great Face for Phone Support

A Great Face for Phone Support

I started in billing and then tech support. I learned that I could Google steps to solve tech

September 11th

September 11th

One early Autumn morning, American’s perception of its place in the world was irrevocably

The Angel of Belltown

The Angel of Belltown

About a year after the fire, Tom and I moved to the building next door to the old Speakeasy Cafe.

All About the People

All About the People

It’s rare that you work with a group of folks that you want to spend the rest of your

You Can’t Train Attitude

You Can’t Train Attitude

I have always thought that myself, you can teach anyone anything if they are willing to learn, but

My Views Were Valuable

My Views Were Valuable

At a meeting one morning after about six months or so of starting my job, Mike Apgar turned to me

Fight the Fight Against Misogyny

Fight the Fight Against Misogyny

It was so offensive, I asked Jesse Harris (who was my AS at the time) if he would take the call

Anti-Metallica DDoS

Anti-Metallica DDoS

After their infamous battle with Napster, Metallica decided to take the reigns of how their music

Focusing on the Right Thing to Do

Focusing on the Right Thing to Do

Jay Hollett was newly hired, and I was his mentor, so he sat next to me and asked a lot of

WEEN!

WEEN!

Well before social media and viral events were part of an organization’s standard operating

It Could Only Happen at Speakeasy

It Could Only Happen at Speakeasy

One warm spring day, we lost our Internet connectivity in the 3rd Ave building, and I just

Full of Heart

Full of Heart

Speakeasy was full of heart at all times. I have a million examples of this kind of corporate

Knowledge in Spades

Knowledge in Spades

I don’t think I’d ever had so much fun on the job, we laughed daily and the overall