Manca's Next Life: Starbucks

A story making the rounds in Madison Park turns out to be true: Starbucks Coffee is buying Manca's, a popular neighborhood restaurant and longtime Seattle institution.

Starbucks spokeswoman Cheri Libby confirmed the purchase of Manca's location Friday, saying the Starbucks company made the decision only after learning the restaurant was closing. Its last day is March 25.

More's the pity. The Manca name has figured prominently in Seattle's history.

The first Manca's opened before the turn of the century at the corner of First and Cherry, later moving to Second and Columbia. The legendary dish was its palate-pleasing Dutch Baby pancakes.

In 1991, some 30 years after the downtown restaurant finally closed, four members of the Manca family opened the Madison Park restaurant.

"Starbucks hopes to retain as many of Manca's staff as possible," said Libby. "We'll offer coffee service as well as sandwiches, salads, soups and entrees."

Did the decision to operate its first full-service restaurant have anything to do with the fact Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz now lives in the Madison Park neighborhood? Libby couldn't say.

Another unanswered question: Does the sale include the recipe for Dutch Babies?

Mory Manca, one of the present owners, once joked that the reason his wife married him was to get the secret recipe.

Mayoral perks: Is it an abuse of power? If it is, it doesn't faze Seattle Mayor Paul Schell. He proclaimed not a day, not a week, not a month, but an entire year in honor of his father.

In Seattle, 1998 is the Rev. Ervin Schlachtenhaufen Year.

Schell's Lutheran minister dad will observe his 90th birthday Wednesday, although the family will celebrate Friday.

Schell said, "He's in great shape. He comes to Whidbey and chops wood for the winter."

If you want to keep up with the Rev. Schlachtenhaufen, you'll have to split eight cords.

Sale away: Neiman-Marcus, the Dallas-based department store, is coming to Seattle this week for a sale of women's apparel.

The clearance opens at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall at 10 a.m. Wednesday and continues through Sunday.

Will the earth move? Promoters think so. They've been handing around copies of a story that appeared in The Sacramento Bee during a similar sale there.

The Bee's story mentions a crowd of 1,500 women waiting for the doors to open. The headline: "The magic words: 70% to 80% off."

Is the liquidation sale a test run for opening a Neiman-Marcus store here? Spokesman Ken Downing denies it. He says, "We don't have any plans for Seattle."

But Downing did admit to a touch of nostalgia. He was raised at Three Tree Point and once worked at the Seattle I. Magnin's, which closed in 1993.

Java head: Ballard resident Suzanne Kitwin laments that her car was broken into recently. But she found it amusing that, while she had a car phone, a pager, a pair of Ray-Bans, $5 in cash and Lotto tickets, the only thing taken was a book of Starbucks coupons.

Kitwin says, "Most people who steal do so to support a drug habit. Only in Seattle would that drug be caffeine."

Jean Godden's column appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the Local News section of The Times. Her phone message number is 206-464-8300. Her e-mail address is: