Ever hear a long-time resident of Eatonville refer to “King’s Place”? If so, they were referring to a restaurant at the top of Ohop Valley, next to the Ohop Grange. The building isn’t there anymore, but the memories are still strong.
Up and Running
Between 1920 and 1930 a blacksmith named Roscoe King and his wife Lottie, jumped into the new “automobile” craze by building a simple garage.
Over the next 17 years, the two grew the establishment, adding, among other things, a restaurant. Lottie sold King’s Place in 1939 to Katherine Miller of Chicago, but she didn’t hang onto it long before selling it to a young couple, Jess and Madora Dawkins, in 1941.
Dawkins Learn to Cook
Madora says, “I don’t know what we were thinking back then. I didn’t know how to cook. Thank goodness for the farmers. They showed me how to make some things. Thanks to them, they helped keep us afloat.”
Madora was obviously a better cook than she lets on because the business grew. The couple sold a rib steak dinner — with dessert — for 85 cents. When Ole Malcom, the local butcher, raised the price of rib stake from 19 cents to 25 cents, dinners shot up to $1.00.
Thorvaldsons Take Over
In 1945 the Dawkins sold King’s Place, and it changed hands a couple times until Leif and Margit Thorvaldson took it over in 1948.
Their daughter, also named Margit Thorvaldson, recalls the surprise purchase.
“My Mom, dad and my brother Leif Jr. had taken a trip back to Norway after the war to see the family. Father came back by himself, which was a mistake. He was sick and tired of the work he had been doing [woodworking], and while visiting family in Tacoma bought a restaurant.”
Margit’s mother came home to not only a new home and business, but also a job as a full time cook. “It was tough work. From early morning until late at night,” says Margit. “Mother was good at it, but it was tough.”
The restaurant served all kinds of food, like trout, steak and blackberry pie, but it was the Norwegian meatballs that were the big attraction.
“And there were many interesting people that came into the restaurant,” says Margit. “One man was very proud. His claim to fame was that he shared a bathroom with Einstein.”
Leif stayed busy too. While the Thorvaldsons ran the restaurant from 1948 until 1962, he made improvements, remodeling King’s Place inside and out.
King’s Place had a great run, but the final owners eventually had the old building burned down. If you look closely you can still see where the gas pumps stood, but it’s the memory of great food and hospitality that will live on.
Information provided by Diane Grant’s “Cruiser”, Margit Thorvaldson and Madora Dawkins
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