Downtown needs good spot to meet

A friend has been worrying that there's something missing in downtown Seattle: a meeting place for friends, a central location when shopping.

Years ago, the semi-official meeting place was inside the East entrance to the late, lamented Frederick & Nelson store. There were chairs for the foot-weary and a book where you could leave messages about missed connections.

That waiting area, alas, is long gone.

And, while "meet me at the pig," works for those shopping at the Pike Place Market, there still needs to be somewhere for the shop-til-you-drop crowd. A few suggestions:

The bear. The bronze FAO Schwarz teddy-bear sculpture that occupies the sidewalk at Sixth and Pike might work on days when it isn't raining.

Monorail espresso. Downtown's first outdoor stand, since moved to a takeout window on Pike Street, is a congenial place to wait.

Concierge desk at Pacific Place. Friendly people staff this desk and, while you're waiting, you can check on city events.

Bon Marche furniture department. While away the time trying out overstuffed floor samples.

Nordstrom's espresso. Tables beside the Sixth Avenue entrance are centrally located.

Westlake Park arch. The sculpture beside the fountain not only works as a meeting spot, it's great for people watching.

High fashion: Don't look now but Seattle, the erstwhile grunge capital, has arrived in the upscale world with the prospective July 21 opening of the Escada boutique at Fifth Avenue and University Street.

The 6,000-square-foot store will be the first in the nation with a new retail concept: Three monochromatic rooms, showcasing the collection, accessories and evening gowns.

Last week 100 local women lunched at Cascadia and previewed a display of gowns, beaded, befeathered and elegant, show stoppers of the sort royalty might wear. You have to wonder: What will such glamour do for the town's lumbering image?

All aboard: Did you know you can reserve the Monorail? You can. The train to nowhere and back rents for $250 an hour.

It was the scene of a three-hour blast Friday. Microsoft co-workers and friends hosted a going-away party for Wasses and Racha Haroun. After 12 years in Seattle, the Harouns, originally from Syria, are moving to Paris.

The 75 guests boarded "Club Monorail" at the Seattle Center station at 9 p.m. The train stopped at 10 and 11 p.m. for latecomers and potty breaks. The Monorail car was set up with a buffet at one end; disco dancing at the other.

Party-goers say it was a moving send-off.

Vacationland: The mini-drama took place in a downtown doctor's waiting room. The wife emerged, joining her husband, who was reading a magazine.

She: "Ready to go?"

He: "Wait, there's something you should see. Here's a great spot for our next vacation."

She (looking over his shoulders at the magazine): "Not OUR Ballard!"

Jean Godden appears Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Phone: 206-464-8300. E-mail: