Patrick Abe has owned and run Seventh Avenue Service at 7th & Jackson in Seattle’s International District for 20+ years (could be 30+ years … not sure). SAS is one of my all-time favorite places in Seattle. Pat, his son David and the other 7th Ave mechanics have worked on my vehicles for about 15 years. My brother Greg recently bought an ’84 GMC S-15 pickup from Pat. Pat had given the truck to his nephew who neglected to change the oil. The truck’s exterior is pretty beat up but has a new engine that Pat and David installed before selling it to the Spils brothers. David sold me the tires off his wrecked Cadillac a couple years later as the truck tires were wearing out. He didn’t tell his dad — but he threw in a set of used rims that had been sitting in the back of the shop for a while.
They’ve never updated the garage structure so you’re likely to dismiss it as a deserted, rusted shack if you drive by. Pat will offer you a donut from the brown cardboard box that I imagine he picks up every morning on his way to work. But the best parts about SAS are the customers (lots of older people who won’t trust anyone else with their car repairs) and the folks who work there. Pat scratches on a piece of paper what needs repair, puts it under your car’s windshield wiper and calls you later in the day telling you “Hey Spill, your truck is ready … come pick it up!”. He tells me that he lives in West Seattle now but grew up in Seattle’s International District when it was actually a neighborhood with houses and family residents. His family owned the market across the street and at some point he purchased the garage where SAS now resides.
You can stop by early (Pat’s there at 7:30am) — it’s better than calling first as he may tell he’s too busy, but he’ll always make time if you show up at the garage with your car.
Seventh Avenue Service
701 S Jackson St, Seattle, WA 98104
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I love the ID when I feel safe. I do Tai Chi in one of the buildings just west of I-5 (Bruce Lee trained in this building, though not in our studio). You enter through a little pink doorway between a little hole in the wall ground floor restaurant and some basement chinese artist co-op… up narrow squeaky stairs. Shifu rents the a large second floor room, which belongs to one of the big Chinese Family Associations.
There is a wall of pink slips of paper that record donations to the Association. There’s a huge gaudy picture of the family ancestors on another wall, complete with altar paraphenalia. Periodically we find new food offerings to the Ancestors – primarily candy and soda .. I think they take perishables with them after their ceremonies.
The view across the way is of another clan headquarter building. You can just about see the ceremonial rooms. Other rooms in the building are rented out – the barber across the way likes to watch class sometimes and wave.
I’ve heard that in earlier days, there used to be some clan strife with a third clan and they used to take shots at each other’s clan HQs across what is now a parking lot.
The restaurant owner downstairs doesn’t like our class – he’s been known to stomp upstairs and yell about the noise. Shifu says he’s well known in Chinatown for being rude and won’t talk to him. She tell him not to interrupt class and to talk to the landlords if he has any issues. Its interesting to hear these two Chinese people, for whom English is very much not a native language, talking English to one another. I reckon they speak different dialects so English is a common tongue. Since the scene itself resonates so much from home, their speaking English is an odd addition to a scene that could otherwise be taking place in the Orient.