Every time I see him, Skillet founder Joshua Henderson makes tantalizing references to additional Skillet Diner locations. Well, here’s an official announcement: The crowd-drawing Capitol Hill diner is getting a Ballard sibling. The new location will open this summer at 2034 NW 56th Street, near the Ballard library branch.
"I love that side of Market; it's a different Ballard," says Henderson of the location just north of the neighborhood's main drag, a microhood that's decidedly more family oriented than the nightlife zone on Ballard Ave.
Though larger in size, Skillet Ballard will look and feel much like the Capitol Hill original, says Henderson, right down to the corner space and large windows to let in natural light. The new location will certainly serve the upgraded diner fare (breakfast, burgers, kale salad, daily specials) that has become part of the Henderson canon, though Team Skillet promises some dishes will be specific to Ballard.
The 100-seat space will have a much larger bar—probably 15 or 20 seats compared with the eight on Capitol Hill. This sounds like a savvy move; to my mind the excellent cocktails at Skillet Diner don't get sufficient acclaim because diners are busy rhapsodizing about the pork belly waffles and poutine. There's also talk of a "sweet patio" and a much longer counter that arches around the kitchen, though Henderson promises the larger environs will still feel intimate, like a diner should.
The diner will be part of the Greenfire Campus, a five-story apartment complex and adjacent office building loaded with eco-friendly features like wetlands, rainwater harvesting, and an onsite P-Patch.
Meanwhile, Henderson is also busy working on a whiskey and cheeseburger tavern in Woodinville and a modern “water-inspired” restaurant with adjoining oyster bar and market on the northern shore of Lake Union—both part of his his Huxley Wallace Collective. He'll also continue scouting potential Skillet Diner locations, both in Seattle and on the Eastside.