Ballard Annex Oyster House, the new seafood place getting ready to pop on Ballard Avenue, is ready for its closeup (check out the gallery above)! With less than a week away from opening (March 21 is the date), the old Thaiku space has been transformed into an eastcoast-meets-westcoast seafood parlor, complete with live tanks and steam kettles. Perhaps no one is more excited about the 'Annex' than co-owner Zak Melang, a longtime Ballard resident who, along with his partner Nate Opper, also owns the Matador chain and Kickin' Boot — both of which have homes on Ballard Ave.
It doesn't take long to realize BAOH is full of surprises. Here are 10 of them.
1.) Melang and Opper had been eyeing the old Thaiku space for 8 years.
Because I love the building. I said, "If you guys ever sell this building, please come to me first.' I said it half jokingly, but eventually they came up to me and they said, 'We're thinking of selling the building." 2.) They never considered that building for their prior concept, Kickin' Boot .
The Kickin' Boot was never a concept we thought would be good for that building. Nate and I always looked at that Kickin' Boot building in the past...it was all graffitied and messed up, but it had a really cool architectural feel to it. As soon as we decided to take the Kickin' Boot building, there was no doubt in our mind that that was the concept for that particular building. 3.) The seafood concept of BAOH was Opper's idea.
He's the guy who comes up with more of the food side kind of vibe of what we do. I'm more of the design element and operations and more of the alcohol side of the business. It's just kind of the way we work. 4.) Melang designs all of their restaurants.
It's what I love to do more than anything. I make a great effort to try not to redo anything the same, but I definitely have a passion for wood-working. If there's anything to make people say, "I can tell this is a Zak restaurant," it's going to be the woodwork. 5.) Melang ended up doing something inside BAOH that he's never tried before.
I had all of this scrap wood from the Matador build-out, all this scrap wood from the Kickin' Boot build-out, and I just chopped it up into little pieces and covered the entire wall upstairs with it. It came out really, really cool! It's thousands of pieces of wood just turned into panels. I did the same thing in the main dining room. 6.) There is not one thing in the new restaurant that resembles Thaiku.
In fact, when we took over the building, we decided, "Since we're buying this building, we can't do anything half-assed. We have to do everything right, b/c we're going to own it. So, we dug out the entire restaurant to the dirt. If you were to walk in the front door, there'd be nothing in the whole place but dirt. That's really starting from ground zero. 7.) There are steam kettles in the middle of the bar.
The first thing you see when you walk in are these three steam kettles that are coming through the bar, which is really unique. I've seen it on the east coast and up in B.C., but I don't know of any restaurants in Washington that have this. These steam kettles, you cook your soup in it, you do it right in front of the customers at the bar and it heats up your soup perfect because it never burns. Then you cook your mussels in there and other shellfish. It's a pretty cool experience for the customers because they get to see their food being made right in front of them. 8.) Everyone has the same title at BAOH.
We haven't divided it up into servers, bartenders, hostess, kitchen staff; with this concept, we want everyone to do everything. They all have the same title, they all share. The guys behind the bar will be shucking oysters and they'll be running food to tables. Everybody there will have the opportunity to work every position in the restaurant. It's something that's going to take a little time; shucking oysters isn't easy! 9.) Melang provides bass/vocals for the Super Sonic Soul Pimps, which is in the midst of recording their sixth album.
I was able to build a recording studio upstairs (from the shop where he designs the restaurant furniture). I record other bands there sometimes, but I'm in there every week with my bandmates, continually recording albums, which is another creative outlet for me. 10.) He would not shun the idea of opening a music venue at some point.
Seattle's changed so much since the early 90s when the Soul Pimps used to play and we'd sell out every club we played at. But now, the music scene is a bit different and I just think if and when I do open up a concept that features live music, I need to be ready not to make any money off of it. · All Ballard Annex Oyster House Coverage [~ESEA~]
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