The old warehouse at 3506 Stone Way North spent nearly two years for lease, languishing behind an unfortunate shade of dingy yellow paint. But when Chad Dale, Bryce Philips, and Ira Gerlich of Evolution Projects (formerly Evo Properties) got past the uninspiring concrete block exterior for a tour, the interior’s massively arched, wood-beamed ceiling suggested more convivial possibilities. Especially for three guys who happen to be behind Ballard’s Kolstrand Building, hence no strangers to the idea of turning old industrial spaces into shared domains for new restaurants.
Now the resuscitated structure has a name, the Fremont Collective, and a crisp graphic paint job courtesy of local artist Justin Kane Elder, whose work adorns nearby restaurant Revel. And two of the best chefs in the city will soon have their own kitchens within. The interior is a sort of Neapolitan ice cream sandwich; Walrus and the Carpenter and Boat Street Cafe chef Renee Erickson has installed a wood-fired oven in the middle swath for her new restaurant, the Whale Wins. It’s flanked by the new location of Joule, Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi’s former Wallingford gem, and a massive new retail space for Fremont ski, skate, and snowboard store Evo. In good weather, diners will spill onto patio space out front, and Dale, Gerlich, and Philips plan to eventually reopen the skate park (seriously) that’s located in the basement.
The Fremont Collective is really two warehouses squished together—a larger structure from the 1950s and a smaller one in the rear that dates back to 1910. With the constant whiz of traffic and the Seattle Solid Waste Transfer Center around the corner, the location may not be as intuitive as Kolstrand’s perch at the foot of Old Ballard. But with hundreds of new apartment buildings arriving to the north and athletic retailer Brooks planning to build new headquarters on the very next block, this pocket of Fremont seems poised for big things.
Putting two notable restaurants under one roof has logistical perks, like shared bathrooms, says Dale, but at Kolstrand, conjoining Staple and Fancy and Walrus and the Carpenter created a sort of paradoxical equation of attracting diners: “It’s not twice as many people because it’s two restaurants, it’s four times as many people because it’s two restaurants.” The three businesses even want to open their doors in unison—most likely in early October.