After remaining empty for over a year and a half, a historic Ballard building will come to life once again. Per My Ballard, a new brewpub called Station 18 Drinks and Eats will debut in the more-than-century-old former firehouse on Russell Avenue NW. The restaurant aims to open by Labor Day weekend with a menu of pub grub and pizzas, plus 12 beers on tap and cocktails.
Station 18 takes over the location formerly occupied by popular brunch spot the Hi-Life, which closed in September 2019 after 15 years. Six weeks after the shuttering, the Hi-Life’s owners tried out an Italian restaurant called Valentinetti’s in the same space, with a menu of pizza and pastas (and the intention to host puppet shows). But the effort didn’t last long, and Valentinetti’s closed permanently in January 2020, leaving the distinctive large brick building up for grabs.
It appears that Station 18’s owners — Kate Barrett from Kate’s Pub and tech Erik Nilsen, who met through “mutual karaoke buddies” — are leaning into the firehouse theme, naming the restaurant after an active station down the block. From all accounts, it aims to be both family and dog-friendly, with big screens for sports watching and a casual vibe.
While Ballard has no shortage of bars and breweries, the former Hi-Life location has always been a draw for its striking, well-preserved facade and a large interior that still has some of the rustic accents from yesteryear. The building was built by famed architects Bebb and Mendel in 1911, with space for horses that drew the carriages at the time, and was in continuous use as a firehouse until 1976; the Hi-Life then took over in 2004, maintaining a lot of the original character, and it sounds like the new stewards intend to do the same.
“This historical building is well loved by the community and we are so honored to be the custodians of this gorgeous space,” the new owners said in a statement on the official website.