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Embracing the Dive: The Iconic Thunderbird Tavern (Re)Opens in Ballard This Week

Unfussy drinkers rejoice: After shuttering last summer, the venerable Thunderbird Tavern is reopening in its longtime Ballard home this weekend. Madison Eckendorf is partnering with Secret Sausage owner Ian Smith to launch the T-Bird in the space on 15th Ave. that has housed watering holes for more than 60 years.

"We have embraced the very essence of 'dive' and I tried my best to make it welcoming to all," Eckendorf says. "I am not reinventing the neighborhood tavern. I want to bring back the cozy bar with cold beer and good people."

Both have worked in the industry before, Smith as security manager at Owl & Thistle and bouncer at Peso's and Eckendorf as a server at Melrose Grill and Bar in Renton. The pair signed a lease last December and have spent the past couple of months on the build-out. Two pool tables, dart boards, stools, and the bar itself will all look familiar to former T-Bird regulars. "We think it is extremely important to keep the feel of the Thunderbird," Eckendorf says. "We are not trying to market ourselves for the hip 21-year-olds that crowd Market St. in the center of Ballard. We want surrounding neighborhood patrons to come in and still see their Thunderbird, just a little cleaned up."

The kitchen will serve the complete menu from Smith's sausage cart, including his take on the Seattle dog: A hot link in a french roll with cream cheese and house-made "fir-lander" hot sauce. The drink list includes a full well and a dozen beer on draught. "We are also trying to embrace more local micro-brews along with Coors Light, Eckendorf adds.

Live music, weekly trivia, and outdoor fire pit seating are also in the works. The T-Bird may have a soft opening later this week, but doors are set to officially swing open at a party starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Hours are 2:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. daily. Check Facebook for opening day updates.
· All Coming Attractions Coverage on Eater Seattle [-ESEA-]
· Thunderbird Tavern [Facebook]

7515 15th Ave NW Seattle, WA 98117

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