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Seattle restaurant owner dumps Pabst in protest of Russian purchase

Peter Levy, owner of Seattle's 5 Spot, pours out the last of his Pabst Blue Ribbon in protest of a Russian company's purchase of Pabst Brewing Company. (Photo courtesy 5 Spot)

For the past 25 years, Seattle’s popular 5 Spot restaurant has served Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap. But after owner Peter Levy read Friday morning the brewer of the iconic beer had sold it to a Russian company, he said ‘nyet’ from now on.

Levy was out on the sidewalk of his Queen Anne eatery Friday, pouring all of his Pabst on hand down the drain.

“I just don’t want to pad Putin’s pockets. My guess is that for every beer we sell, a penny would end up in Vlad’s pocket,” he tells KIRO Radio.

Levy says his protest was fueled by Russia’s longstanding disregard for boundaries and the arming of separatists in Ukraine. And when he saw the news of the sale Friday, it just “killed me.”

He acknowledges it won’t make much of a difference. But it’s important to him to take a stand.

“It’s just a very small statement from a very small man about how I want to run my company and how I want to represent myself to my community.”

Levy says he hopes other restaurant owners in Seattle and across the country follow his lead.

Along with its signature Pabst Blue Ribbon label, parent company Pabst Brewing also makes Rainier and a number of other beers. Its owner reportedly sold the company to Russia’s Oasis Beverages for $750 million – nearly three times what it paid for it in 2010 – Levy says.

“I think they should be ashamed of themselves as well.”

Levy says he ordered managers to dump all of the Pabst and Rainier at his other restaurants including The Hi-Life in Ballard, or return unused kegs to his distributor.

In all, he figures about $800 worth of beer went down the drain Friday afternoon.

He’ll offer discount micro-brews in place of Pabst until he can get a new low-cost beer on Monday. But he says his anger will likely last far longer.

“What’s more All-American than apple pie and Pabst Blue Ribbon? And the [expletive deleted] Russians own it now.”

KIRO Radio’s Jillian Raftery contributed to this report.

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