If anybody could sell a fish tale, it was Ivar Haglund, the renowned creator and owner of Ivar's Acres of Clams and other restaurants.
While the one and only Ivar may be gone, his spirit and humor lives on in his restaurant chain. And this year, they’re celebrating 75 years in Seattle.
"Some people called Ivar Haglund a wit - more like a half wit or a dim wit,” Bob Donegan, Ivar’s Acres of Clams president and co-owner, said with a smile.
Donegan says it's the humor and puns that have helped keep this company alive and thriving for more than seven decades.
Ivar Haglund started with an aquarium on Seattle's waterfront. It didn't take him long to realize he had a bunch of hungry people on hand, so he opened his first fish shack. It's now grown into a multi-million dollar business.
“During our peak summer hours, we'll have 3,000 customer a day, just in our waterfront location," said Donegan.
While customers come for the world famous clam chowder, many stay for the homespun humor and tall tales generated by the late Haglund. His marketing ploys are world famous, starting with pushing a live seal in a baby carriage in downtown Seattle, to the now infamous "Dancing Clams.”
"Ivar came up with some spectacular stunts," said Donegan, "and we've carried on with the tradition."
One of the latest was a ploy a few years ago, when so-called underwater billboards from the 1950s were suddenly "discovered.”
“A lot of people believed that Ivar put them in the water in West Seattle for submarine traffic. Actually it was us all along," said Donegan.
In honor of the 75th anniversary, an "o-fish-al" cookbook is being offered. The cookbook contains many recipes, including a version of their infamous clam chowder, and funny and interesting stories about the restaurant and its colorful owner.
Ivar’s restaurants are also offering special $7.50 menu items through November 17. For more information, go to the Ivar's website.
For a good laugh or a nostalgic look back, here's a link to some of Ivar's commercials: