history of Manca's Cafe

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Downtown Seattle in 1902 - Manca's Cafe (small building on left)
From the University of Washington Library. The original is here
From the Asahel Curtis Collection and the Museum of History and Industry.

"Seattle's Oldest Cafe Caterers Since 1871" - The Manca family history in Seattle begins with my great-grandfather Victor moving his Catholic family from Salt Lake City, Utah in the year 1899. He was a restauranteur, and when he arrived in Seattle opened up Manca's Cafe.

It was a successful restaurant for several decades until the mid 1950s when it closed its doors. Up until its closing, it was very popular with the downtown bankers and office workers.

My great-grandfather was an inventive chef. Inventing such dishes as "Dutch Babies" and other Manca family secret recipes. It is always a treat to eat these dishes!

Dutch Babies

The most famous of his dishes is the Dutch Baby. While I personally do not know its derivation, many believe that the Dutch Baby is based off of the German Apfelpfannkuchen. The original recipe is a Manca family secret. But close approximations can be found on many places on the web. Martha Stewart even has a version!

The family lore is that one of Victor's daughters (one of my grandfather's sisters) named the Dutch Baby as a child. Perhaps they got named "Dutch" because of her inability to pronounce "Deutsch" - the German word for German.

My family believes that Dutch Babies became famous when Sunset Magazine profiled them as a featured recipe. You can find the recipe and some history in their old cookbooks (I know the "Best of Sunset" Cookbook published in March of 1987 has them on page 167). Sunset credits Manca's Cafe and my great-grandfather as the inventor of the Dutch Baby.

We have a version of the Manca's Cafe menu from December 16, 1942. At the time, Manca's Cafe owned the trademark for the term Dutch Babies. They were on the menu for $0.90. With a side of bacon for a total of $1.00. Or with a side of sausage for $1.10.

History

Victor originally opened on the Southeast corner of Second and Cherry. In 1903 the building was demolished so the Alaska Building could be constructed.

By 1942, Manca's Cafe could be found at 108 Columbia Street. It was demolished so an office building could be constructed.

Thank you for sharing the recipe over the years! We made our first Dutch baby for Sunday brunch for two today and are so in love! We will have to come get an original next time we visit my in-laws!


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