Steve’s Gay 90’s – South Tacoma, Washington


Steve’s Gay 90’s restaurant was located at 5238-40 South Tacoma Way in South Tacoma, Washington. Originally known as Steve’s Cafe, the restaurant was opened by Steve Pease and John Stanley in 1941. After a few years of operation the name was changed to better fit its atmosphere and decor.

The restaurant offered cocktails and American food served smorgasbord style for a nominal charge, with dining music  and entertainment in the evening. The Gay Nineties had a smorgasbord table and booths decorated to appear like “surreys with fringe on top.” Checked table cloths and wagon wheel chandeliers complete the down home look.

In the mid-fifties, Steve’s added to their unique treasure trove an actual cable car, converted to street driving, bought at auction in San Francisco and driven to Tacoma.

A postcard showing the newly acquired cable car
Steve’s as it looked several years later.

The Cable Car Room then opened with replicas of Tacoma and San Francisco cable cars as booths in the cocktail lounge.

The crowning gem was the Opera House, opened in a mid fifties expansion, furnished with antiques from the South Tacoma mansions and featuring a twice nightly floor show with can can girls, among other performers.


Sadly, due to years of declining business, Steve’s business partner “redistributing” restaurant, and changing tastes, Steve’s Gay 90’s Restaurant closed its doors in 1977. The building has gone through numerous changes but the shell of the sign survives.

You can see 54 images of Steve’s from the Tacoma Library’s image archive here.

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