Older residents might remember it as Mabel’s Tavern, a watering hole owned and operated for many years by local resident Mabel Newman.
The humble establishment, with its neon “tavern” sign out front, still retains its old-school feel, serving up cold beer and plenty of camaraderie.
Come spring, however, the Hollywood Tavern will have a new look and a new owner.
Joshua Henderson, founder of the Skillet dynasty (Skillet Diner, Skillet Counter and Skillet Street Food and Catering), bought the place and after doing the necessary refurb work, plans to reopen it next spring as a “cheeseburger and whiskey tavern.”
He says, “I’m going to keep the name because I see no need to change it. There’s plenty of great history here and we want to preserve that in the community.”
Henderson explains that he will retain the original space as a bar, while adding on a new wing to accommodate an open kitchen and dining area, as well as large outdoor patio with a fire pit.
He comments, “I’m going to keep the tavern feel with its dark wood, but brighten things up a bit with some skylights, metals and natural finishes. Simplicity is what I’m after though. I don’t want it to be over-designed.”
As for the food, Henderson says, “I’m still working on the exact menu items, but basically we’re going to offer American style tavern fare – destination-worthy burgers, grilled brick chicken, Caesar salads, maybe the occasional pig roast on Sunday night … It’ll be well-executed food made with the best and freshest ingredients.”
He adds that the restaurant will grind its own meats and make its own cheeses, while showcasing the abundant agriculture of the area.
“I chose Woodinville because I love what’s happening here,” comments Henderson. “It’s a real food-wine community where there’s a connection between farmer, wine and food. It feels a bit like Sonoma, but there still needs to be an influx of more quality food establishments to support everything that’s going on here.”
The tavern will serve primarily local wines, beer and spirits to complement its fare.
“There’s going to be a distillery moving in next door,” adds Henderson, “and we’re excited about a partnership with them.”
The Hollywood Tavern will most likely be open for lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday, with brunch on weekends.
Henderson hopes to attract a wide range of diners, from local residents and their families to couples and groups of friends out for an afternoon of wine tasting in the Valley.
He emphasizes that the tavern will be an unpretentious place where everyone can feel welcome, adding, “It’s about providing a relaxing, fun environment for people to come and enjoy good food that has been seasoned well and impeccably sourced.”
The local man, who sprang on the Seattle food scene back in 2007 when he began serving street food from an airstream trailer, has come a long way in the past few years.
He’s not surprised by his success, however, noting that he has worked very hard to make a name for himself.
“I do feel fortunate and blessed,” he says. “I’m very lucky to have amazing people working for me. That’s the only way I can do it all and do it well.”
Henderson views food as a “creative vehicle” that allows and encourages people to have moments and experiences with one another.
He adds, “I think it’s important that the food doesn’t get in the way of what’s going on with people.”
In addition to the Hollywood Tavern, Henderson has another restaurant in the works for Seattle.
Mum about the location, he reveals only that the establishment will be a higher end sports bar. “And I’d also love to find a spot for a second Skillet Diner,” he says. “The plan is to keep expanding for the future.”