Scenic Slices

Pagliacci Takes Over Totem House for New Ballard Location

The historic fish and chips shop has a future in pizza.

By Allecia Vermillion September 7, 2021

Agog pies, coming to the Ballard Locks next year.

Seattle’s classic pizza delivery operation is taking over another local icon. Pagliacci will open a location across from the Ballard Locks, in the former Totem House space. Red Mill Burgers ran the spot as a combo burger and fish and chips shop for the past decade, but bowed out over Labor Day weekend as its lease ended.

The new location means access to slices and seating for anyone visiting the Ballard Locks and its environs. It also brings some relief for the busy Crown Hill location that has delivered pies across fast-growing Ballard for nearly 30 years. “This is 100 percent about having customers get pizza quickly on busy nights,” says owner Matt Galvin.

The company will expand the building to add more ovens while preserving an indoor dining area and add “a new Pagliacci twist,” per Galvin, while preserving hallmarks of the unusual 1939 structure.

The Totem House opened all those decades ago as Northwesters' Arts and Crafts Shop. Soon after, it became a popular fish and chips destination and a local landmark thanks to the distinctive architecture and hand-carved totem pole out front. (The Burke did an illuminating investigation into the totem's origins.) The original Totem House restaurant closed in 2011; Red Mill moved in to reinstate a restaurant in that space for another 10 years.

At this point, the 82-year-old building needs structural updates, says Galvin. Pagliacci’s remodel will preserve the memorable roofline, and the hand-hewn cedar ceiling within, while moving the overall aesthetic away from the era when non–Native Americans dipped into cultural iconography to sell completely unrelated stuff.

The project is still in the permit and design stage, says Galvin. "There is definitely a lot of history to the building and we are trying to be as thoughtful as possible on how we preserve the building during the remodel." Once expanded, the building will have an outdoor fireplace and patio seating. Galvin expects it to open in spring of 2022.

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