Photo courtesy of Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub

We Dig: Haunted Northwest — Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub, Seattle

by | Oct 7, 2014

Each Tuesday throughout October, We Dig is putting the “boo” in booze, dishing up a weekly dose of Halloween spirit for our readers. Prepare for chilling lore behind a few favorite Northwest bars and eateries that double as supernatural hotspots. First stop on our haunted Northwest tour: Washington.

The joint: Kells Irish Restaurant & Pub || 1916 Post Alley, Seattle

The history: Housed partially in the Butterworth Building—originally built as the Butterworth and Sons mortuary around 1903—the Kells property didn’t become the present-day Irish restaurant and pub until the early 1980s. Long before the taps began flowing in Seattle’s Post Alley, Edgar Ray Butterworth operated the mortuary from the first floor, stored coffins in the present-day banquet room and housed a funeral chapel, offices and residences in the upper levels.

Particularly at the height of the Spanish Flu pandemic, many bodies passed through the building’s doors. Throughout her 31 years in the family business at Kells, manager Karen McAleese says the lingering scent of formaldehyde is still discernible from time to time.

Though many customers are skeptical of Kells’ resident spirits, McAleese and longtime Kells staff have experienced unexplained banging noises, fallen bar glasses and strange figures (including a small girl and a man dressed in a double-breasted white coat). Occasionally, faint whimpers have been heard from upstairs—the suspected spirit of a past suicide victim.

“It’s made me feel very different about death, because of all the personal things that have happened here,” McAleese says. Ultimately, she believes it’s entirely possible that some deceased ex-patrons are returning to remember cheerful times drinking at the pub on weekends.

The spirits (plus cocktails, brews, bites and more): In addition to a bar menu boasting Seattle’s largest single malt scotch collection (imported directly from Scotland), Kells’ very own Irish ale and lager lineup (brewed at the Portland location) and a full bar and brew selection featuring neighborhood favorites such as Georgetown Brewing Co. Manny’s Pale Ale, Kells is one of the few fully-operating Irish restaurants in the city. Pop in for fresh-baked Irish soda bread, the authentic Ballycastle Sausage Roll or Irish staples including house-made Shepherd’s Pie and Corned Beef and Cabbage. Stay for the cozy, classical ambience, spectral vibes and good company.


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