LOCAL NEWS

Send in the clowns: Iconic Shorty’s makes a move

Jul 10, 2019, 11:45 AM | Updated: Jul 12, 2019, 8:59 am
Supporters of Shorty's pinball bar help move pinball machines to its new Belltown location ... all dressed as clowns. (Aaron Granillo, KIRO Radio) Supporters of Shorty's pinball bar help move pinball machines to its new Belltown location ... all dressed as clowns. (Aaron Granillo, KIRO Radio) The clown mascot of Shorty's Bar as painted on the wall of its original Belltown location. (Aaron Granillo, KIRO Radio)

Seattle is a pinball player’s paradise. Hundreds of machines fill dozens of arcades and bars across the city, including at the iconic Shorty’s in Belltown. The Coney Island themed bar is known as the birthplace of Seattle’s pinball culture and is also famous for its vast collection of creepy clown art.

When Shorty’s was forced to move to a new location on Tuesday, the owner decided the only proper way to do it was with a parade of clowns.

“We love you Shorty’s,” screamed the face painted clowns outside the bar’s original location near Second Avenue and Bell Street. They made a ruckus with kazoos, whistles, and horns.

“It was the first dive pinball bar that Seattle ever had,” said Honi Harrison, wearing zebra stripe stockings and a matching coat. “It is Coney Island themed and full of clowns and it’s terrifying.”

Pinball with police: What Seattle cops are doing in the ID

Harrison said she’s been coming to Shorty’s almost daily since moving to Seattle four years ago.

“This is a historic day in Shorty’s history,” Harrison said. “It’s moving just down the road so all of the pinball machines will be moving down the street in a spectacle for the locals to enjoy.”

Shorty’s move marks the end of a 22-year-run at its original location. The building that houses the bar is slated for redevelopment. So, send in the clowns to pack up the place and haul the pinball machines down the block.

Carefully transferred on special pinball-dollys, the clowns rolled the machines to their new home, bringing along a slice of Seattle spunk and history.

“Shorty’s is one place that is emblematic of a Seattle that people know and love,” said Dyer Oxley, co-host of the NW Nerd podcast. Shorty’s was the seed that planted the city’s pinball craze in the late ’90s, according to Oxley.

“Shorty’s was the place where a scene actually lived and existed for years,” he said. “After a while, of course, this snowball started and next thing you know there are pin crawls throughout Seattle, where you can go from pub-to-pub and just play different machines throughout an entire day or night.”

Kate Folchert showed up to Shorty’s on Tuesday, moving day, to pay her respects. The retired waitress of 40 years said she worked nearby the bar in the late ’90s when Shorty’s first opened.

“All of the staff from all the restaurants used to congregate here,” Folchert said. She’s thrilled her favorite hang will be around for another generation of “free spirits.”

“The spirit of Shorty’s is something that you cannot take away from just a building,” Folchert said. “I’m 70 years old and I’ve always been that clown.”

Photos: Thousands attend NW Pinball expo in Tacoma

Shorty’s owner, Avout Vander Werf, agreed the customers are really the main attraction, not the pinball or the bar’s iconic cigar-smoking clown logo. He said the new Shorty’s will survive only if the same characters come for the show.

“But will they like it?” asked Vander Werf. “They’ll find themselves on a different bar stool in a different spot in a different building. They may not like it or they may be ecstatic and say, ‘This is great. This is better than before.’”

Vander Werf will find out soon enough. Shorty’s reopens at its new Belltown location July 12.

Local News

pet sales...
Kevin Ko, KIRO 7 News

WA lawmakers discuss bill to ban for-profit pet sales at retail stores

The bill would also disallow retail pet stores from financing “or make a loan for the purchase of a dog or cat,” according to the bill.
22 hours ago
protests...
Frank Sumrall

Seattle protests tame following release of Tyre Nichols footage

Seattle is preparing for city-wide protests over what the Memphis Police Chief described as “acts that defy humanity.”
22 hours ago
lake stevens...
L.B. Gilbert

Lake Stevens HS employee arrested for alleged sexual misconduct

A Lake Stevens School District employee is under arrest after being suspected of improper sexual contact with at least one child.
22 hours ago
nonprofit hospitals...
Frank Sumrall

Providence rated worst nonprofit hospital in country regarding consumer practices

Providence, a nonprofit hospital located in Renton, has reportedly saved more than $700 million that was intended for the community.
22 hours ago
landlords rent...
L.B. Gilbert

Multiple rent stabilization bills aim to control extreme increases

Two bill proposals are on the floor of the state legislature that looks to impose some limits on ever-increasing rent prices.
22 hours ago
parent protest bellevue schools...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Parents have 1 last chance to voice concerns over Bellevue schools consolidation

Bellevue parents have one last chance to hear about the district’s plans to consolidate some elementary schools and shift students to other school campuses.
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Send in the clowns: Iconic Shorty’s makes a move