Why yes...that parking lot does scream beer garden. Photo via Google Maps.

For two women who built their business out of a food truck, Marination owners Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison have a knack for turning uncommon older spaces into congenial bars and restaurants. Now the pair are expanding the Marination empire to Columbia City, turning the former Esmay Auto Rebuild garage just off Rainier Ave into a restaurant.

It doesn't yet have a name. And while it's not technically a Marination, it will share a distinct aloha vibe with the company's other spots on Capitol Hill and in West Seattle...and the big blue truck where it all began.

A few favorite Marination dishes will show up on the menu, but otherwise company chef Angie Roberts gets to create an entirely new lineup of sunny Asian-Hawaiian fare. The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner, plus weekend brunch. Saxton wants the place to function as a community center of sorts, a place for Little League banquets and casual meetups. Yes, it will be super family friendly, she says. "But expect booze-filled evenings." There will be ample cocktails, plus the space has a massive attached parking lot that in Saxton's mind "screams beer garden." And these ladies would know—the patio at Ma Kai might be the most scenic beer garden in town.

Saxton and Edison were scouting for a commissary kitchen—a place to prep the food served on the truck and elsewhere—and decided to check out the 1947 garage, which had attracted initial interest from a few local chefs and a brewery in the past few years, but was still available. It had great bones and enough room for both a commissary and a full-on restaurant.

Since the space is bigger and more nocturnal than the Marination locations, and will serve a far broader menu than the truck, it felt right to give it a separate identity. Plus, she says she and Edison had a lot of fun opening Good Bar in a former bank building in Pioneer Square (see what I mean about cool spaces?).

The official word is the restaurant will open this fall, but Saxton dares to dream it could happen by late summer...all the more time to enjoy the beer garden. There's also talk of a popup or two in the parking lot while construction is happening. Keep tabs on all this over at the Marination Facebook page.

 

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