See studies by A. Churchill (1957), R. Shaplen (1960), and F. Partnoy (2009).
Ivar's was founded in 1938 by Seattle folk singer Ivar Haglund. Having built Seattle's first aquarium on what is now Pier 54, he decided to add a companion fish and chips bar to feed his visitors. The bar was short-lived, however. On July 22, 1946, Haglund opened a new restaurant, Ivar's Acres of Clams, at the same location. The aquarium closed ten years later, but the restaurant remains.
Ivar's has two other full-service restaurants: Ivar's Salmon House in Seattle's Northlake neighborhood, and Ivar's Mukilteo Landing in Mukilteo, Washington, next to the Washington State Ferries terminal. There is a fishbar outside of all three full-service restaurants. All its other locations are seafood bars. Ivar's created the famous saying of "keep clam" that is posted all over each of the eateries.
Nard Jones remarked in 1972 that Haglund was "not afraid to reflect Puget Sound tradition in the decor of his restaurants, whereas others of his profession seem intent on making their patrons forget where they are." In this respect, he singled out the Salmon House, "an almost exact replica of an old Indian long house.
Every Independence Day from 1964 until 2005, Ivar's sponsored the Fourth of Jul-Ivar's festival and fireworks show at Downtown Seattle's Myrtle Edwards Park on Elliott Bay. Ivar's estimates its attendance at around 300,000 people. According to the Ivar's website, in 2006, there will be no daytime festival, but the fireworks will go on in Elliott Bay at "10-ish", as usual.
Ivar's also owns the Seattle-based burger restaurant chain, Kidd Valley Hamburgers.