Tavern Hall will open its doors in downtown Bellevue as early as July 15. And if the ambitious 9,500-square-foot restaurant in the former Munchbar space ends up being half as impressive as it sounds, it could more than justify the drive across Lake Washington. Some familiar names in the local food scene are behind the concept, including brothers Marc and Bret Chatalas (Cactus) and James Weimann and Deming Maclise (Stoneburner, Von Trapp's, Bastille, Macleod's, Poquitos). Eater spoke with Marc Chatalas about the project.
Bellevue has no shortage of restaurants that first opened locations in Seattle. Case in point: Black Bottle, Monsoon, and Cantinetta. Exceptions to the rule exist, (Kaisho, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka) but in general it's less common for Seattleites to drive to Bellevue if a sibling Cupcake Royale or Tutta Bella sits closer to home. According to Chatalas, Tavern Hall wants to help reverse the trend.
"There's a ton of dining dollars that go from the Eastside to Seattle. There's almost nothing that goes the other way," he says. "If we do something really unique and compelling we feel that we can actually bring people across from Seattle to Bellevue."
The globetrotting Weimann and Maclise's obscure, weird, and gorgeous fixtures lined up to fill the space should be a draw: Tavern Hall will house salvaged lanterns from Coney Island, church windows from Portland, and the complete facade from a former psychiatric hospital hauled in from New York State.
Maclise and Weimann came on board after the Chatalas brothers began working on the concept. "As often is the case in life," Chatalas says, "something good came from something bad." The brothers had been working with Philip Christofides for their past two Cactus locations, but learned in the same week the Tavern Hall lease was signed that the designer accepted a position with Starbucks. While regrouping, "we began with the premise of no limitations," Chatalas says.
Asking, "if we could work with anyone on this project who would we work with?," Maclise and Weimann quickly came to mind. A longtime acquaintance of Weimann, Chatalas "picked up the phone and called James. That began a conversation about design restaurants, and business philosophy." The collaboration began soon after.
Tavern Hall sits just off a sky bridge between Bellevue Square and Lincoln Square. Expect shuffleboard, flat screens showing Mariners and Sounders games, and large private spaces for groups of 50 to 200. The menu is filled with familiar pub fare including hearth-baked pretzels, braised brisket sandwiches, and burgers made with meat ground in house. Plus, 20 beers on draught and cocktails.