Go Eat! The Pink Door

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By Julien Perry

Magical, serendipitous, inspiring.

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Those are all words Jacquelina Di Roberto uses to describe The Pink Door - the Italian-American restaurant she opened in Seattle's Pike Place Market more than 25 years ago.

"This is a very eclectic restaurant," she says. "There are four murals on the walls, all painted at different times in history throughout the Pink Door and things hanging from the ceiling - a big swing, and people get drunk enough to get up there quite often.  And then, of course, our two trapeze."

That's right - trapeze! Jackie's been offering live, original entertainment since she opened.

"It's a nod to a time, a juncture in history right now. When we have political unrest and we have no voice for political unrest, we can actually use this venue for that, and that's the direction I'm headed in right now."

Jackie grew up with an Italian father and grandfather in upstate New York, and says looking back, the signs have always pointed to her having her own restaurant.

"When I went to college I took the lower bunk out of my room and made a kitchen underneath my bed and invited all my friends in to eat. That's when the writing was on the wall and I still didn't understand what I was doing, but I just knew I had this compulsion to feed people."

In 1981, four years after moving to Seattle, Jackie finally opened her own place in Post Alley.  There's no signage or main entrance really - just a pink door.

"Back in the early 80s I actually wanted to move away from Seattle, I wanted to become and ex-pat, and the way that I did that was to invent a subterranean restaurant that was, what I then thought, was an escape from Seattle," says Jackie of her now Seattle institution.

The speak-easy like space was a former violin shop.  And what is now the lounge was the original Bingo Hall in Pike Place Market which was gutted by fire.

"And I sat out in the alley watching 30-foot flames above the restaurant and thought, 'That's it! I'm moving to Italy. It's over,' when in fact, The Pink Door was not burned at all."

And with a menu of fresh seafood, handmade pastas and veggies, Jackie says she hopes all of her customers feel full - of inspiration - when they leave The Pink Door.

"Some people are being inspired because they had a particularly good conversation with someone in my restaurant and all of the things around them conspired to make that happen. It's alchemy."

Places Jackie likes to Go Eat!: Chiso, Kabul

For more information: http://thepinkdoor.net/

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