WE ARE PROUDLY FAMILY OWNED AND OPERATED
There really is a guy named Shawn O’Donnell!
The proud grandson of Irish immigrants. I grew up in Mountlake Terrace and first dove into the restaurant business when I opened a 48-seat sandwich shop, in Terrace, called “The Lunch Box” in 1982. Just 22 years old with not much money, I am not sure how we did it, but with some help from family and friends, somehow we made it work.
In 1987 I had a chance to really get into the restaurant business and buy a struggling full service restaurant with a cocktail lounge named Michael Deans. Now 27 years old, married and no children, I wasn’t afraid of anything, certainly not business failure, so off we went on the latest business adventure. After a renovation the restaurant was renamed The 41st Street Bar and Grill, located in Everett. In 1996 the restaurant was again renamed, this time - Shawn O’Donnell’s. After 17 years at the 41st street location I worked to build from the ground up the restaurant currently located just to the east of I-5 on 128th Street in South Everett. We finished building the new restaurant building and opened to a welcoming crowd on September 29th 2006.
So much fun in those early days on 128th. New building, new equipment, great staff, enough customers. Now we are called “Shawn O’Donnell’s American Grill and Irish Pub”. Kinda long but I felt it captured who we are and what we are trying to do. We were and still are having a blast exploring and learning about our grand Irish heritage.
My wife Tina and I have been married since 1979. Tina owned a hair salon from 1980 to 2017. She had an amazing run those many years at “Tina’s Hair and Tanning Salon”. We have two children, both who grew up bussing tables and hanging out at dad’s restaurant. After grabbing degrees at the University of Washington (Go Dawgs!) both Shawn Jr. and Sophie decided to give careers in this family business a go.
Now with my two grown children and my sister’s daughter Kristen and neighbor kid and Shawn Jr’s UW buddy Chase, it was time to grow this business. We started looking for a second location and found a cool spot at the base of Seattle’s amazing and iconic Smith Tower; from 1914 until the Space Needle came along it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi. We open Shawn O’Donnell’s at the Smith Tower in September 2013. Buoyed by a busy Pioneer Square and four great years for the neighboring Seahawks and Sounders, this has been a great location and a resounding success.
Now with the Smith Tower and South Everett locations clipping along, it was time to start snooping around again. We spotted the Fremont location in 2015. This was a cool corner spot that was shuttered after a tough run as a place called “Hunger”. We also found it had been a McMenamin’s location with the name “Dad Watson’s”. After several months of negotiations and several more under construction we opened Shawn O’Donnell’s Fremont at 3601 Fremont Ave, in January 2017. The space turned out great and the neighborhood just feels right. When my dad was a boy, the family lived in Fremont and I can remember being at my grandmother’s house, just off Fremont Ave, up the hill from the restaurant.
I hope we can keep adding to the story of this family business. I can’t wait to see where it takes us.
Shawn O’Donnell Sr.