“Cater. Great news, Commellini Estate has launched a product line and pick-up catering service! The warm and ready to go pick-up catering is perfect for any event you have going on, from bridal parties to baby showers, and dinner parties to corporate luncheons. You can also look for them at the Fairwood Farmer’s Market with their homemade, frozen product line that can be warmed and enjoyed at any time!” Read More….
“When it comes to entertaining and feeding a lot of people at once, few people know as much as caterers do. They have to be prepared for almost anything and have to know how to meet the needs of a lot of people. …all at once! Today we asked a couple of our Featured Caterers to give us their best tips (and a couple recipes) for how to keep things simple and easy when hosting a dinner party.
“When planning the perfect Dinner Party for friends, family, co-workers, or new acquaintances Commellini Estate highly recommends family style meal service. From the appetizer to the dessert family style meals promotes conversation and makes guests feel relaxed. Family Style meals make your table look bountiful, saves you time, and encourages conversation. As silly as it may sound, but when you have to ask the person across the table “Can you pass the lasagna again? It is fantastic!” it will not only make you proud, but it will help break the ice and foster conversation and a communal feel. In addition, your guests get to eat what they want versus pre-portioned service and without having to get up from the table for seconds.” Read More….
-From Desiree at Commellini Estate
By: Rachel Sandall
“We chose Commellini Estate as the site for our reception because we loved the beautiful trees, family-friendly atmosphere, and superior food. We wanted our wedding to be a celebration of family, friends, and our new life together. Our wedding guests flew and drove to Spokane on a beautiful July day to be with us and help us kick off our marriage with a grand celebration…..I am also grateful to Desiree Seghetti from Commellini Estate, who acted as our wedding planner. She did a phenomenal job at customizing the venue and menu to our tastes.” Read More…
Commellini Estate is a real Spokane Wedding Venue jewel. Close enough for easy access, but with all the charm of nature, you’d be hard pressed to find an all in one venue like this one! We asked the lovely people atCommellini Estate to tell us more about what makes them different, what’s included and their best advice for newly engaged couples: Read More…
By: Rachel Sandall
Nick and Mary are Gonzaga grads who got married on a rainy day last June at St. Aloysius Churchwith their reception being held at Commellini Estate in North Spokane. Read More…
We’ve got another awesome reader submission this morning! This is Greg and Morgan’s wedding at Commellini Estate by Jenna Boogerd Photography. This couple worked hard to make sure all the details of their wedding had impact and showcased their personality. They also had an AMAZING group of vendors (which Morgan gushes about at the end of the post!).
Here is a little from Morgan about their big day…
“The rosary on my bouquet belonged to my paternal grandmother who I shared a birthday with and passed away when I was young. The picture on our cigar bar was of my grandfather, he was an avid photographer and cigar aficionado. It was a really beautiful way to bring my Dad’s parents into the day even though they couldn’t be there with us. Also at the guest book table we had their wedding picture as well as a picture from Greg’s aunts wedding day, her husband had passed away earlier this year and we were all very close to him.
My husband grew up in the Yakima valley and so we wanted to represent central Washington as well, we did that by incorporating grapevine into my bouquet and hops into all of the boutonnieres. To give a little nod to the history of Spokane we used ashtrays from the worlds fair that I found at the white elephant.” Read More…
By: Dana Muchow
Last October, I met a pair of extremely lovely women at the Engagement Party wedding show and have been waiting on pins & needles to share with you this fabulous location. Mother and daughter, Lauri & Desiree Seghetti represented Commellini Estate a historical family estate & restaurant that they have been at work to restore to it’s former glory. At the time they were knee deep in construction and had yet to open their doors officially to their wedding venue… but it’s official! They have opened their doors and calendar to wedding ceremonies, receptions & events and are booking for 2010 and beyond! The venue, constructed in 1940, is fully equipped with a new terrazzo dance floor, chandeliers & terrace overlooking the estate and holding up to 120+ people. They offer two outdoor ceremony and/or reception locations as well; Creekside with a Tuscan Gazebo and Pondside accomodating up to 250 people. The private restaurant is also available for rehearsal dinners. For the wonderful story of Commellini’s three generations, photos and info. about how to set up a viewing or book your date visit www.commelliniestate.com.
By: Rachel Sandall
One of Spokane’s newest wedding venues is Commellini Estate in North Spokane. Even though Commellini’s is new to our ears, it was actually built in 1940 by two Italians from Tuscany, Albert Commellini and his little sister Elide. The two used the space as a restaurant and rented it out for events until 1977 when Elide had a sudden stroke that paralyzed her. The venue was leased out under other owners until May 2009, when the family decided to take the venue back and restore it to it’s former glory. And so they have done. The updated restaurant is finished with the highest quality furnishings, creating a perfect combination of elegant and upscale, something you don’t often find in Spokane, especially in a country setting.
By: Maria Ladd
Here is an excerpt from the article that Wandermere Living Magazine wrote about the history of Commellini’s and the Seghetti family:
“The roots of the Seghetti family extend into the history of Wandermere as early as the 1930s. Some may begin to recognize them more recently for reviving the treasured property that has been in their family for almost 80 years, Commellini Estates. Since the family has taken over the private restaurant, catering and event venue, they have made some new discoveries, made architectural changes and learned new stories about the history of their great aunt and uncle, Albert and Elide (Leda) Commellini”. Click Here for Full Article:
By Chey Scott
Across town, opportunities to dine at the historic Commellini Estate (14715 N. Dartford Dr.) in far North Spokane are even fewer and farther between.
The family-owned estate, built in the late 1930s, currently operates as a private event venue, but opens up its dining room for fixed menu dinners usually four times a year. Because the dinners are limited to 100-120 people, reservations fill up quickly after an event is announced, says vice president of operations Desiree Seghetti, whose great-great uncle and aunt, Albert and his sister Elide Commellini, founded the estate.
“Our family is from Tuscany, so we try to bring that flavor out in the food,” Seghetti says. “Most Americans are more used to Southern Italian food, which is what you think of when you think of traditional Italian, but ours is more regional Tuscan, in a rustic Italian realm.”
New multi-course menus, priced around $45 per person, are usually created for each dinner night, with the exception of the estate’s chicken cacciatore — by far the most popular dinner of the year, Seghetti says. The family recipe, created by Elide Commellini, was one of the original dishes served at the estate when she opened it as a restaurant in 1941.
“It takes over a week to prepare,” Seghetti says, adding that celebrity guests who’ve eaten the famous family dish during the restaurant’s heyday include Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.
Commellini’s dinners offer multiple reservation times, and a pre- and post-dinner happy hour open to the public without requiring reservations, which features limited appetizers and desserts alongside specialty cocktails.
To know when Commellini Estate’s next dinner is planned, the venue’s website (commellini.com) offers a free monthly newsletter subscription in which planned events are announced.
By: Spokane Catalyst Magazine
This year marks the Inland Business Catalyst magazines 8th annual 20 “under 40” competition. Each year outstanding business professionals under the age of 40 are nominated for this contest. The nominees are narrowed down by a panel of judges to a prestigious group of 20 top professionals. This year Commellini Estate’s Vice President of Operations, Desiree Seghetti, was named a Top 20 “Under 40” professional! Desiree Seghetti, at the age of 24, was the youngest award winner this year, and one of the youngest in competition history. Desiree was recognized for her skill set as a risk taker and innovator as well as for her career success at Commellini Estate. To read Desiree’s interview check out page 32 in the online version of the magazine here.
By: Heidi Groover
Nicole Eggers was running late.
The 30-year-old had recently left her job as a bartender and was speeding to a job interview with Commellini Estates, a special-event company that caters weddings and banquets. She was praying her red convertible would get her there OK.
Lately, so many things had been going wrong for her: Her marriage was crumbling and putting her kids in the car for daycare often meant letting them get rained on — the convertible’s top wouldn’t go up anymore. The car wouldn’t go in reverse either.
When she arrived at the interview, she whipped into a parking spot without thinking. She’d have to back out, but she couldn’t. After the interview, the well-dressed employees helped her push her car out of the spot so she could leave. She was humiliated.
A few days later, she got a call from Big Table. They’d heard about what had happened.
“We want to give you a car,” they said.
A few weeks later, she was driving a donated 1989 Toyota Camry.
“Everything was starting to unravel and the idea that there’s someone out there that cares, that’s never met me, but just genuinely wants to be helpful. That was a game changer,” she says. “It changed my perspective on what faces me. It gave me a new sense of hope to know there are people out there like that. We live in a good world.” Read More…
Commellini Estates, located in north Spokane on Spring Creek in the Dartford Valley, is an event venue for weddings, corporate parties, and other special occasions. The setting is lovely and tranquil; the restaurant rife with gourmet meals. What many locals folks may not know, however, is the estate’s fascinating history.
The story of Commellini Estates is one rich with family tradition and Italian culture. The series of events that would lead to the creation of Commellini Estates began in 1904, when Albert Commellini first came to the United States at the young age of 13. Albert came from a small town in the Tuscany province of Italy called Staffoli. Upon his arrival, Albert came to Chicago where he found work as first a water boy and then a recruiter for the railroad. He followed his work and the railroad tracks out west, where they eventually led him to Spokane.Albert quickly established himself in Spokane, earning the reputation of an excellent entrepreneur. His business ventures in Spokane were successful and varied. He owned a wide range of businesses from hotels, to apartments, a lithography company, an Italian importing company, and even one of Spokane’s most extravagant nightclubs, the Ambassador’s Club. His business exploits eventually led him to the creation of Commellini’s Restaurant. However, Albert’s talents were not limited to the business realm. While living in Spokane he ran for County Commissioner, was a Spokane deputy sheriff, and was even known for being one of the primary sellers of the ingredients necessary to make bootlegged moonshine, during the prohibition-era.
Although some of the most interesting stories tend to paint Albert as a man living on the wrong side of the law, there is no question that Albert was also a great humanitarian and a compassionate individual. In 1932, many Spokane residents found themselves suffering at the mercy of the Great Depression.Recognizing this need, Albert opened a soup kitchen for locals in one of his downtown hotels. He firmly believed that one man could make a difference and he could never understand why the city had not come forward to help its residents. Albert continued to operate his soup kitchen for six months before Spokane County finally took it upon themselves to get involved. In 1923, Albert’s younger sister, Elide, arrived in Spokane. In 1938, she and Albert purchased the land on which Commellini Estate currently rests.They began building a house on the property which reached completion in 1940. To combat the loneliness and the isolation of the estate, Elide began to throw private parties in the house. This gave rise to Commellini’s Restaurant, which officially opened its doors in 1941.
In 1950 Albert and Elide’s niece, Gina Bellagamba, arrived for an extended visit. She helped in the restaurant and enrolled in school at Holy Names Academy where she learned English. Eventually, in 1954, her longtime boyfriend Mauro Seghetti, still in Italy, decided to move to Spokane to be with her. They were married in 1956 and had 2 children.
In 1977, a major blow was struck to the well known Commellini’s Restaurant when Elide suffered a severe stroke that left her paralyzed. In the wake of this, Commellini’s closed its doors so that Gina could take care of Elide, which she did for the next nine years. In this initial time of uncertainty, the family debated over what to do with the restaurant. In 1978, the family decided to lease out the restaurant and continued to do so up until May 2009.
As of May 2009, Commellini’s moved back into the hands of the Seghetti Family. It has been a long time dream of the family to rejuvenate Commellini’s to its former grandeur and restore its once rich traditions. After a remodel in 2009, Commellini Estate reopened as a venue and event restaurant. They once again serve the traditional rustic Italian recipes first brought over to the United States by Elide and host various indoor and outdoor events. They hope to continue to build upon the rich and colorful history first started by Albert and Elide Commellini.”
By: Rebecca Nappi
If the spirit moves you, pour yourself a stiff drink tonight and watch “Rumrunners’ Paradise” – a Spokane publictelevision documentary about Prohibition in the Inland Northwest.
Toast this fascinating chapter in Spokane-area history when alcohol was banned but people drank anyway. You’ll learn:
• What led to Prohibition.
In the early 1900s, Spokane was home to transient men, 50,000 at one point, who were here for mining, farming, logging and railroad jobs. They had money to spend. They were lonely. So they drank in Trent Alley, a 10-block area in downtown Spokane with dozens of saloons. Drunken men ended up in the streets, retching out their excess.
Appalled women, church leaders and teetotaling men worked toward a total alcohol ban. Their campaigns, as well as the “scientific temperance curriculum” in schools, led to Washington state passing Prohibition in 1916, four years before the entire nation went dry.
• Law-abiding citizens bootlegged and moonshined.
Unlike in the East, where mobsters took over the bootlegging business, most of the Inland Northwest folks involved in illegal liquor activities had never broken the law before. Eventually, police officers and elected officials joined in, too.
Albert Commellini, an Italian immigrant who owned an import store, a club and a restaurant north of Spokane, was a major supplier to area moonshiners. He ordered tons of sugar (needed for homebrew) under the guise of selling it in his store.
• Drinkers got their booze creatively.
Ice cream parlors and soda pop parlors secretly dispensed alcohol, too. A woman who lived near Downriver Golf Course put beer in tomato juice cans and sold them to golfers.
• Canada was a very friendly neighbor.
Alcohol wasn’t illegal in British Columbia, so Inland Northwest smugglers transported Canadian liquor across the border in cars, boats and small planes.
Tourism to Canada from here exploded. In 1924 alone, $40 million in tourism money filled city coffers in Vancouver, B.C.
• Why Prohibition ended.
Money, mostly. By the 1930s, the Depression hit. People needed jobs, and government needed money. Legal alcohol sales could generate both and so Prohibition was repealed in 1933. View Article…
By: Lori Hudson
Dining at Commellini’s during its earliest days was little more than an invitation to eat at Elide Commellini’s kitchen table.
The Italian immigrant, known by her nickname Leda, hosted dinner parties for friends to fight loneliness at the house she purchased with her half-brother Albert Commellini along Spring Creek and what is now Dartford Drive.
Those parties were the genesis of Commellini’s Restaurant, which opened its doors in 1941.
In Leda’s capable hands and with the help of her brother and a niece, the restaurant rose to the height of popularity over the next three decades. But its future was uncertain after she suffered a stroke in 1977.
Facing doubt about Leda’s health, the Commellini family leased the restaurant to others – and their influence and pride in their namesake faded until the restaurant closed in May 2009.
Now, a new generation hopes to return the Commellini estate to its former glory, complete with Leda Commellini’s recipes.
Lauri Seghetti and her daughter Desiree Seghetti will reopen Commellini Estate this weekend for a members-only reception. They’ve created what they call a “private restaurant” with limited dining opportunities for members and a venue for events.
A membership to Commellini Estate is free; those interested in dining must sign up online or by calling the restaurant. Members receive a monthly newsletter with details about upcoming dinners, the menu and prices. Then, they must call ahead with reservations for events they’d like to attend.
Lauri Seghetti says although the membership may seem a bit onerous, the intent is to create an intimate dining experience, get to know their customers and return the restaurant to its roots.
In the early days, those who wanted to eat at Commellini’s would call Leda for a reservation and she would take their order. She offered steak, fried chicken and chicken cacciatore entrees and each meal was served with salad and family-style spaghetti with tomato sauce and chicken ravioli.
Those who arrived at the isolated restaurant north of Spokane without calling were turned away hungry; it didn’t matter if they were friends or even one of the most beloved New York Yankees baseball players of all time.
Leda famously turned away Joe DiMaggio when the slugger showed up unannounced (even in the face of pleas from those who begged her to make an exception). Family members say DiMaggio stayed in Spokane an extra day to dine at Commellini’s the next night.
Lauri Seghetti says she and her husband have been dreaming about returning the restaurant to the family since before she and Robert were married 27 years ago.
“Even when we were dating we would talk about plans,” she says.
Robert Seghetti’s mother, Gina, is Leda and Albert Commellini’s niece. She came to Spokane in 1950 at their invitation for what was supposed to be a six-month visit. She began by helping in the restaurant and later learned English at Holy Names Academy.
Gina went back home four years later to visit family and her longtime boyfriend Mauro Seghetti. Shortly after her return to Spokane, he moved to be with her. They were married in 1956.
The Seghettis have partnered with Juli Norris of Simply Gourmet to cater the food at Commellini’s. Norris and her crew were recently honored for outstanding hors d’oeuvres, a trio of rustic Italian crostini, at the Epicurean Delight fundraiser for the Inland Northwest Blood Center.
Lauri Seghetti is an interior designer. Her daughter Desiree has a business administration degree from the University of Washington, where restoring the family restaurant was central to her studies. She wrote business plans for Commellini’s as a part of many classes.
She also studied in Italy and visited extended family still living in Staffoli, north of Pisa.
The restaurant will look different to those who have dined there. The interior walls have been removed, to create one large room with a small bar area.
The original terrazzo floors were restored and new black terrazzo was laid where the walls once stood (coincidentally, by a relative of the original installer). The striking floor includes six colors of terrazzo and beautiful detailing at its center.
The original chandeliers were preserved and the Seghettis installed pillars and sconces in the bar area that were found in storage. Desiree Seghetti says they found the fixtures and many other treasures as they dug through old family records in storage.
Albert Commellini came to the United States at age 13 in 1904 and was an entrepreneur. He first landed in Chicago and worked for the railroad, following the jobs west until he settled in Spokane.
In storage on the 140-acre family property, the Seghettis found letterheads from the Ambassador’s Club, a swanky nightclub; hotels; his many apartment buildings; a lithography company; and an Italian importing business.
Commellini also started a soup kitchen in the lobby of one of his downtown hotels during the Great Depression to help those who were suffering.
Desiree says it was like someone locked the door one day and walked away from many of the storage rooms; they found a 1938 National Geographic and a calendar from 1940 among the records.
“It was like stepping back in time,” she says.
Albert and Leda also ran a chicken ranch at one time, in buildings still standing across the creek behind the restaurant (which also served as their home). In addition to serving them at the restaurant, employees slaughtered up to 1,000 chickens a day and supplied other stores and restaurants including the Davenport Hotel.
Albert ran for county commissioner, served as a deputy sheriff and was known for his Prohibition-era sales of the ingredients for bootlegged moonshine – a role immortalized by author Timothy Egan in his book “Breaking Blue.”
Leda arrived in Spokane in 1923, sent by her father who thought is was “about time somebody checked on Albert,” according to the family. Her visit also turned into a relocation and she purchased the family land with her brother in 1938.
The Seghettis say they hope to someday turn Commellini’s back into a full-time restaurant, but they’re starting small.
Commellini Estate also offers a small, creekside space for outdoor weddings and the Seghettis are working with the county for approval to host weddings and parties at a larger site near a pond on the property, which could accommodate up to 300 guests.
The first event this weekend will feature Leda Commellini’s recipes for steak, chicken cacciatore and her spaghetti sauce. The family-style meal is $39.99 and reservations are required. There’s also a full bar where drinks can be purchased separately.
The Seghettis are planning a grand opening celebration on Jan. 14 and 15. The event will feature wine-paired hors d’oeuvres and double as a fundraiser for the ISAAC Foundation, which offers therapy grants for children with autism. Tickets are $75.
There is more information available on the Commellini Estate website,www.commelliniestate.com, or by calling Lauri or Desiree Seghetti at (509) 466-0667. View Article….
By: Jeanne Gustafson
Commellini’s, a long-time Italian-style restaurant here, will be reopened this summer as a reservations-only restaurant and events center, says Robert Seghetti, who will own the establishment with his wife, Lauri, and his parents.
Seghetti’s family has owned the property, at 14715 N. Dartford Drive, since 1938 and ran the restaurant from 1941 through 1977, leasing it to other operators thereafter. The family decided to operate a business there again after the most recent business there, Francisco’s at Commellini’s, defaulted on its lease and moved out last May.
The Seghettis plan to open a private restaurant and events center, Commellini Estate & Event and Private Restaurant. Read More…
By: Jonathon Martin
As the adage goes: if it’s not true, it very well could be.
The history of Commellini Junction, a small chicken ranch-turned-restaurant in the Little Spokane River valley, is an Italian recipe of legend: heaps of truth, a pinch of embellishment, a splash of red wine for flavor.
Marilyn Monroe and Dwight Eisenhower signed the guest book, or so the legend holds. Members of the Chicago mafia hid in the guest houses. Canadian bootlegger booze flowed like the brook behind the restaurant.
In its heyday, Commellini’s inspired legend.
Superstars, priests, daredevils and bootleggers were bewitched by Leta Commellini’s chicken cacciatore and swooned on the wicker-covered bottles of her brother Al’s homemade wine.
After the nightly feasts, few had room for spumoni, but they usually had an appetite for dancing, and the terrazo floor was pounded to the swing rhythms of Benny Goodman on the jukebox.
The restaurant still cooks up Leta’s recipes, but spicy flavor is now limited to the roasted pepper appetizer.
Founders Albert and Leta Commellini died a decade ago, leaving their neice, Gina Seghetti, as the owner and unofficial historian of the 100-acre compound on Dartford Drive.
The restaurant building is now rented by a Spokane Valley couple, Rod and Deborah Dickinson, who reopened two months ago. “Oh yeah, it’s a place with an unusual history,” said Rod Dickinson. “We hear the stories.”
Albert Commellini was already a well-known Spokane figure when he bought the site in 1939.
After immigrating from Italy’s Tuscani province in 1907, he worked as a steam boy on a railroad, which brought him to Spokane.
He convinced his sister Leta to join him, and quickly set up the Italian Importing Company at Browne and Pacific.
Leta worked a popular lunch counter next to the business while Al worked the political circles and local real estate market. He lost a county commissioner race in 1933.
For six years, he owned the magnificent Ambassador club, an East Sprague dance hall with two huge terrazo floors, a movie theater and 15 private dining rooms.
Al Capone’s brother Frankie visited Spokane to consider buying the Ambassador, the Spokane Chronicle reported in 1936.
Less than a year later, in the midst of a conflict over a liquor license, the place burned to the ground in a suspicious fire. “Somebody did Albert wrong,” said Gina Seghetti.
Always the businessman, Albert quickly bought the Dartford chicken ranch, named it Commellini Junction and convinced the county bus service to put in a stop. It was once in the Guinness Book as the world’s smallest town on a single light meter.
With the help of a Japanese couple, he began slaughtering 5,000 chickens a week.
But soon crowds began arriving. They were Leta’s regulars at the downtown lunch counter, hungry for her chicken cacciatore. A small barn was converted to a dance floor, and the terrazo tile installed.
By 1941, the place had slot machines and a jukebox. Liquor laws prohibited alcohol sales, so diners brought their own.
Leta’s cooking touch was famous, but Seghetti said she worked magic with a broken heart. She left a boyfriend in “the old country” to immigrate, and returned to Italy six years later to find him married.
She was also a famous conversationalist, and guests demanded the cook visit their tables after feasts. “If she didn’t, they would be hurt,” said Seghetti, 68.
“If you had been there a few times, and you had a relationship, she was charming and warm,” said Spokane Mayor Jack Geraghty, a regular for 40 years.
The place was regularly filled with lawyers, professors and priests. Father Pat Ford ofGonzaga University remembers his teachers at Mount St. Michael’s seminary making rare off-campus visits to Commellini’s.
Along with the high-profile crowd, the place was becoming notorious. Albert Commellini was once arrested twice in the same day, once for having a bottle of bootleg gin, according to Seghetti. She didn’t know the cause of the second arrest.
He regularly brought huge bags of sugar south from Canada to supply Spokane bootleggers, said Seghetti.
The mafia rumor is sketchy but pervasive. A guest house supposedly was used by mobsters from the Capone clan, whose leader visited Commellini’s in the 1930s. Seghetti, a waitress at the restaurant for 25 years, said she knows nothing about that.
“Nobody’s sure what’s true and nobody’s sure what’s the legend that has grown up around the place,” said Gonzaga’s Ford.
Albert Commellini was also a man with a huge heart, according to Seghetti. He bought her a new Ford after she immigrated to “help the family” as a waitress. He set up a soup kitchen during the Depression in the old Schade brewery on Trent.
Mayor Geraghty remembers the restaurant largely as it is today, hidden, where folks could get good, reliable food in a discreet setting.
Geraghty says Commellini’s was the city’s restaurant of choice when corporate executives came to scout Spokane for the 1974 World Expo. In 1972, in the midst of the Cold War, representatives of the USSR came to talk. They went to Commellini’s.
“We used to have county commissioner meetings up there, with huge lunches, always a jug of wine, big salads,” said Geraghty, whose 1951 North Central High senior prom was at the restaurant.
Ford said the restaurant has special meaning for some at GU. Ten years ago, the popular Father Jack Lawlor found he had rapidly spreading cancer.
A handful of his close friends met for “a last supper” at Commellini’s. A few days later, he died. “We still talk about it every time we go out there,” said Ford.
The Commellini siblings continued to operate the restaurant until 1977, when Leta had a stroke. They sold it, and the restaurant has had a handful of different owners since. Read More…
By: Laura Arksey
Commellini the King
The aristocrat of Spokane liquor distribution during Prohibition was Albert Commellini (d. 1979), an Italian immigrant restaurateur who owned the Italian Import Company in the Trent Alley district. His distribution enterprise handled a significant amount of the bootleg liquor and moonshine that flowed into the city. He also dealt in the raw materials for making moonshine. The Spokane Press of January 15, 1925, reported that the Dry Squad had found 11 sacks of corn sugar and 48 empty gallon jars in a car parked behind Commellini’s home at South 160 Browne. During Prohibition Commellini was arrested numerous times but showed an uncanny ability to avoid most of the consequences. In one instance, though a jury convicted him, a judge “took the case under advisement and dismissed the charge four months later” (Court). Officer Hubert Hoover recalled: “Albert Commellini was the kingpin here. He had a big Cadillac and would drive the streets all night long. He used to tell the commissioner which cops he wanted on the beat” (Heald, 11). Commellini more than survived the Prohibition era. His Commellini’s Restaurant just north of the city was for decades thereafter one of the elite places to dine and a must for celebrity visitors to Spokane.
Needless to say, much of the high-quality liquor arriving in Spokane during Prohibition found its way to the cellars of the city’s wealthy elite. The elegant, well lubricated private parties of the Prohibition era became firmly established in the lore if not the documented history of Spokane. Read More…
Norman H. Clark, The Dry Years: Prohibition and Social Change in Washington(Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1965), 163-164; Edmund Fahey, Rum Road to Spokane (Missoula: University of Montana, 1972); Patrick Heald, “The Lawless Years: How a Defiant Spokane Stayed Wet During the Drought of Prohibition,” The Pacific Northwest Inlander, July 6-12, 1994, pp. 8-11; Thomas Michael Holmes, “The Road to Prohibition and the 1918 Fourth of July Canyon Killing,” Pacific Northwesterner, Vol. 51, No. 1 (April 2007), 4-90; Brian Shute, “Rum Running During the Prohibition Era,” Nostalgia Magazine, Vol. 13, No. 1 (January-February, 2011), 34-40; “Parsons Dies in Montana,” Spokane Press, November 3, 1924; “Dry Men Find Booze in Raw,” Spokane Press, January 15, 1925; “Dry Agents Ordered to Stop Shooting Victims,” Spokane Press, June 4, 1926; “Court Smiles Again Upon Commellini,” Spokane Press, April 7, 1928; “City Basement Wettest Spot in Spokane,” Spokane Press, September 28, 1931; Laura Arksey Interview with Tony Bamonte, Spokane, January 27, 2011.
2014 KREM2 Best Venue Spokane
2013 Best of the City Award Spokane Coeur D’Alene Magazine
2012 KREM2 Best Venue Spokane
2011 KREM2 Best Venue Spokane
Big Table Care For:
It is a privilege to share more of Nicole’s story. She shares the story of her initial connection to Big Table back in 2011 and what has happened since. For more information about Big Table and how you can get involved please click here.
Excerpt from KSPS Documentary “Rumrunners’ Paradise”. Italian immigrant Albert Commellini was a successful entrepreneur during the prohibition era in Spokane.