It's only February, and this year is already looking to rival Josh Henderson's very productive 2013 — a year that spawned Skillet Diner Ballard, Westward, Little Gull, Hollywood Tavern and Cone Steiner — Henderson has announced that he and his Huxley Wallace Collective team are opening a sports bar called Quality Athletics in Pioneer Square later this year. It's going into the new Stadium Place building on the corner of Occidental and King, across from FX McRory's. He tells me it's basically going to be a new twist on a sports bar, with a menu approach similar to Westward.
"We wanted to do the same with this place — great food, a large wood-fired grill and rotisserie. It's not going to be a meat-centric place, but when you're there on game day, you're going to see things on the menu that make sense."
Quality Athletics will appeal to the neighborhood, not just the stadium rats. There won't be televisions blaring in the 3,500-square-foot space on non-game days. The equal parts dining room and bar will actually provide a relaxing lunch spot. "On game day, it all becomes bar, but during the week, we want a place you can sit and have a great lunch and not feel like you're in the middle of Hooters."
Unlike a lot of other stadium-centric bars in the neighborhood, Quality Athletics will be more about sports than specific teams. There will no doubt be a spirited feeling of Seahawks, but Henderson wants emall/em sports to be represented: Think big old-timey images of athletes, whether it be two women boxing or Knute Rockne. That classic sportsmanship vibe will be prevalent.
Henderson describes his sports bar as more feminine than masculine, the type of place two non-sports fans, specifically women, would actually chose for their lunch date.
Here now, his top 5 reasons a non-sports fan would want to patronize Q.A.:
1) First of all, sports fan or not, when you walk in, you'll hopefully appreciate the aesthetic, courtesy of Matthew Parker, who also dreamed up the design elements of Westward and Hollywood Tavern.
2) Following in the footsteps of Westward and Hollywood, there will be an "amazing" outdoor patio — one that will host pig roasts on certain nights, if Henderson has his way.
3) Some type of wood-fired grill element will be front and center.
4) Cue Mark Mothersbaugh, because the Quality Athletics wait staff will likely be channelling The Royal Tenenbaums when they show up for work. Servers will be clad in knee-high socks, headbands, etc. Henderson, a big fan of director Wes Anderson, tapped Life Aquatic for Westward inspiration.
5) Have faith that this place will rock you. "If you seen what we do at other places," says Henderson, "hopefully you'll just trust that we'll do this right."
The goal is to have Quality Athletics up and running at the beginning of August, before the first pre-season NFL game (in restaurant speak, that means more likely September).