Around here, a restaurant decked out in reclaimed wood usually conveys a Northwest aesthetic. But Shawn Roten wanted a feel akin to Colorado’s more upscale mountain lodges, “Like you just skied right in.” Instead of Aspen powder hounds, the Lodge is filled with Hawks and Husky fans downing Pac-12-inspired burgers on lacquered burled-wood bar tops and ordering beers from the gleaming row of 40-plus taps. A few framed jerseys share wall space with mounted antlers and a stone fireplace, all bathed in the bluish glow of televisions at every turn.
Roten founded the Lodge Sports Grille in his hometown of Mukilteo in 2010, and soon after added outposts in Mill Creek, Kirkland, and around Seattle. The soon-to-open West Seattle spot will be the seventh Lodge in five years, with nearly 10 more in the works. That’s fast expansion, even by Seattle standards.
What was originally a one-shot deal evolved into a massive venture for Roten, who saw a need for a nicer neighborhood bar with a broad beer list—a spot to meet your buddies (or drag your kids along) to watch a game. Apart from the downtown and stadium Lodges, he often chooses areas where he sees a similar niche to fill, like the most recent location on Greenwood Ave—“There were only a few divey bars around, and, while I love a good dive bar, I saw potential.”
Thanks to a growing population that drinks local, even those dive bars have stepped up their beer game. And fans who spend nonspectator evenings drinking mescal cocktails and ordering small-plate hamachi crudo congregate to watch games in places that are decidedly, even defiantly unfancy. Which is why the Lodge’s brussels sprout salad and melted brie sliders share menu real estate with loaded potato chips and popcorn shrimp; the beer list is equal measures Bud Light and Schooner Exact.
For all the truckloads of walnut and Alaskan cedar Roten devotes to the Lodge’s stylized interiors, it’s not so much upscale as it is uncomplicated. And when it comes to sports bars, where anything too precious distracts from the action on the screens above, that’s exactly the point.