The Lowman Lunch was nestled on the first floor of the Lowman Building located between 1st and 2nd Avenues on Cherry Street in Seattle's Pioneer Square. Anthony Morovich bought the little 10 stole counter type café in 1933. Because of its location, he had an eclectic group of customers. Lawyers and judges working at the King County Court House, businessmen with offices in the Lowman Building along with their secretaries and stenographers frequented the little restaurant as well as the regular foot traffic customers.
“Ray” as he was known to his customers, was born Ante Antonja-Morović April 25, 1895 on the Island of Zlarin, near the City of Šibenik. He accompanied his father Pere Antonja (after the death of his mother and infant brother in childbirth) to Algiers with a group of Zlarinjani who worked on the Suez Canal, there he got his primary education in French language schools.
As many as 50 of the Zlarin Suez Canal workers then came to Seattle to build the Montlake Cut --- Ray and his father being a part of that group. He joined the United States Army in 1917 and was assigned to the kitchens where he received his training as a cook. For many years after the service, he cooked on Croatian commercial fishing boats and for some unknown reason was nicknamed “Riser”.
Returning to Zlarin in 1931, he married Ane (nee) Branica . Ane and their six month old baby girl, Jenny, immigrated to the United States and the couple settled in the Riverside community of West Seattle. Their son, John was born in 1933.
Besides a being great cook, Ray had an unusual way of doing business. He trusted his fellow man. A newspaper article that appeared in the old Seattle Star circa 1943 reported; He had a nice restaurant, a rush business, but couldn’t keep help due to the manpower and waitress-power shortage”. Pictures show his regular customers cutting their own piece of pie and making change. The headline read: “Help Yourself-Even To Change.” Ray was a patriotic American and during World War II, American service men and “anyone in a uniform” ate free of charge at the Lowman Lunch.
Ray loved hunting, camping and sports fishing. He owned a small cabin on the Skagit River which he frequented with his family and friends. In another article that appeared in the Seattle Star newspaper dated June, 1938, a Western Union employee called the paper to report: “There’s a chap named Ray, runs a little restaurant right next to us ….He’s got his windows all bonamied up and a sign on it this morning. It says: “Closed this week. Gone Fishing”.
Today, his children, Jenny Radelich (nee Morovich) and John Morovich, Sr. recall working with their dad at the restaurant. They would ride the bus downtown after school and during summer breaks to wait tables, run errands and make bank deposits. On occasion, John would even find time to torment the Lowman Building elevator operator by taking the elevator up to the top floor and leaving it there, where upon the operator would have to climb several flights of stairs to retrieve it. Being younger, John had a tendency to slip up more than his sister, resulting in sitting in the corner on a sack of potatoes as punishment.
“Every week mom would roast a turkey at home put it in a shopping bag and deliver it to the restaurant on the bus” recalls Jenny. “I can’t imagine that happening today.”
The restaurant was sold in 1947 and has changed hands and names many times over the years. The Cherry Street Cafe occupies the space today.