The former Schooner Exact Brewing has gone through serious shifts in the past couple years. The local couple who founded the brewing company sold it to the (also local) people behind Belltown Brewing. The taproom closed for a time. And most recently the newly branded Schooner Brewing merged with San Juan Seltzer. While the taproom stayed open during the consolidation of the two companies, the kitchen closed. And now there's even bigger news: When the kitchen reopens—hopefully in July or August, permit process willing—it shall do so as the newest extension of Ethan Stowell Restaurants.
The Seattle restaurant group (currently 13 locations strong) promises to serve approachable food that pairs well with a classic Northwest IPA or a spiked seltzer. The question of which beverage the menu will track to more closely is still up in the air. "That's the big question," Ethan Stowell says, as the taproom's emphasis will decide the character of the food program. "Burgers and beer make sense together. I'm not sure if burgers and seltzer make sense together." Stowell admits that while a beer concept would make menu design easier, "I'd probably get a little more excited about seltzer."
Either way, brewery-goers can expect low-key fare in a casual setting, with no prohibition on bringing in food from elsewhere. But with Stowell's track record of elevating bar food (truffle fried mushrooms at Flatstick Pub) and even stadium dining (bacon-wrapped hot dogs at Edgar's Cantina), would you want to?
Stowell won't just be supplying sustenance for the taproom crowd, but also plans to use the space as a commissary kitchen—headquarters for producing the pasta and desserts that ship out daily to the likes of Staple and Fancy in Ballard. The group's present commissary kitchen, also in SoDo, will become home base for Stowell's catering pursuits. Yep, on top of running restaurants in practically every corner of Seattle, the chef also wants to serve wedding feasts and corporate brunches.
And as Stowell's food enters the taproom, its brews and seltzers enter Stowell's restaurants. You'll soon find "a good bunch" of Schooner brews and San Juan seltzers in all ESR locations.