James Weimann and Deming Maclise have built a reputation for bars and restaurants that are equal parts aesthetic wonderland and dinner (or drinks) destination. But their new project, a roomy beer shop and watering hole called Beer Star, sounds a little more laid back.
This spot on White Center's main drag won’t be tricked out in paneling from a decommissioned Italian embassy or vintage Viennese chandeliers a la Stoneburner or Rhein Haus, but it will have 40 taps that pour local beer and a retail area up front with coolers that offer a couple hundred more cans and bottles to tote home—or crack open on site. When this much beer is involved, says Maclise, “You don’t want things to feel too precious.”
The neighborhood is new turf for the restaurateurs whose other locations are all in Ballard or on Capitol Hill (not counting Rhein Haus’s march into Tacoma and farther east to Denver). Maclise remembers how different Ballard Avenue looked when they opened Bastille in 2009; there’s something particularly appealing, he says, about a business that joins in to shape a neighborhood’s energy. He, Weimann, and their partners—Deveaux Hill, Galen Krohn, and Patrick Riggs—are converting a large brick building at 9801 16th Ave SW into something that sounds like a glorious halfway point between Chuck’s Hop Shop and a (miniature) urban food hall.
Beneath its arched ceiling and exposed wood beams, Beer Star will have a large bar area and another section with tables. Customers can piece together a quality snack over in the retail area—maybe some organic crackers and Beecher’s cheese or cured meat from Portland’s Olympia Provisions. Gourmet offerings will mingle with regular, non-fancy chips and crackers, says Maclise.
Beer Star doesn't have a kitchen, but if you seek something more substantial with your saison, the partners have split the building's remaining space into two adjacent restaurants. One will be a Li’l Woody’s—the burger chainlet is already at work developing a White Center burger specifically for this, its fourth location. The other is a yet-unnamed Chinese takeout concept from the chef, sous chef, and operating partners of Poquitos, the Mexican restaurant Weimann and Maclise opened on Pike/Pine in 2011. Beer Star customers can bring in food from either of these restaurants, or anywhere else.
A large patio will hold as many as 80 people in warmer months; inside, the kid area should appeal to the neighborhood’s family population. With all this square footage, says Maclise, Beer Star can cater equally to families and adults who don’t want to feel like they’re drinking in a preschool. And don’t think the partners’ toned-down approach means this place won’t have an aesthetic to it. Salvaged lights and salvaged wood will outfit the bar, and Maclise says they have a plan to incorporate brewery logos without giving off a convenience store or frat house basement vibe.
Beer Star hopes to open in early May; the two restaurants will arrive later this year.