Just back from Hawaii, where he catered a photo shoot for a car company, and running on very little sleep as the father of a three-month-old baby and another young son, Skillet founder Joshua Henderson shared a few details about the Woodinville tavern project he has in the works.
As reported in Seattle Weekly, Henderson stepped away from the day-to-day operation of his diner and Airstream (and new armory counter) empire in December 2011. He’s still very much around in an internal advisor capacity, he says, but handing off the operational side of things gives him more time to focus on other projects. And wow, does he have a few cool ones in the works.
The one that’s perhaps closest to seeing the light of day (and the only one he's ready to talk about just yet) is the current Hollywood Tavern, a no-frills building that’s nearly a century old, stands at a bend in Woodinville Redmond Road near Cheateau Ste. Michelle and Redhook, and used to be known as Mabel’s Tavern. Locals and frequent Woodinville visitors know it by the neon "tavern" sign out front. The plan, says Henderson: "a cheeseburger and whiskey tavern."
The finished space will be “a beast,” he says, complete with a large open patio and firepit. It’s loosely modeled after places like Taylor’s Refresher (now Gott’s Roadside) in the Napa Valley, though the Woodinville venue will be a sit-down restaurant. And Henderson promises those burgers will be destination-worthy. “Fine dining is different now,” he says. “It’s about technique, not about tablecloths or silverware. You can still have a burger and have amazing technique and finesse.”
Obviously this man knows his way around a burger—Skillet’s are pretty much legendary at this point—but he’s planning to take a few liberties with the specials and perhaps put on the occasional Sunday night pig roast on that patio.
A distillery partner will be supplying the whiskey portion of the equation, though that establishment is still working out logistics and isn’t ready for an official announcement.
Henderson predicts the tavern will likely open this spring, though obviously such prognostications are subject to a billion variables. Oh, and he says another Skillet Diner location should open in the next 12 months, potentially on the Eastside.