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New restaurant/bar opening on Ballard Ave.

Posted by Meghan Walker on March 20th, 2012

When The Gerald‘s owners were brainstorming names and themes for their new restaurant, they kept going back to one idea: classic American. On Friday, when they pull back the curtains on the newest restaurant and bar to open in Ballard, patrons will find a mid-twentieth century Americana joint, complete with green plaid carpet under the booths, gold-tinted mirrors behind the bar, and comfort food like mac & cheese and casseroles on the menu.

The Gerald, at 5210 Ballard Ave, fills the old Elephants Gerald t-shirt making store. In keeping with the history of the space, the owners decided to keep part of the name. Owners Kevin Rothrock and Elliot Westwater have both worked in the restaurant business for many years. They say the theme for the restaurant was inspired by looking at Seattle in the 50s and 60s, when the World’s Fair helped transform the city. “Seattle was put on the map with Boeing starting, the monorail, and the Space Needle,” says Rothrock.  “That whole optimism for the future was really prevalent during that time.”

The Gerald owners, Elliot Westwater and Kevin Rothrock

Chef Josh Green says the menu will be “upscale comfort food,” taking old favorites like grilled cheese and noodle casserole and putting a new spin on the dishes. He plans to offer a casserole of the day, some of which will be homemade classics right out of his mother’s and grandmother’s cookbooks. They’ll also offer Swedish meatballs, paying homage to Ballard’s Scandinavian roots.

Green says he looks forward to “having fun with food that people are really comfortable with.” He’s a strong advocate for from-scratch cooking; he even plans to pick berries from local farms to create his own preserves. Green says he strives to “get to know the farmers, find the product they’re most proud of, and create something great out of it.”

The bar, which will be fully stocked come opening night

Just past the bar is a long, orange hallway that leads to a lounge area in the back of the restaurant. Filled mostly with comfortable chairs and couches, the lounge will accessible through the back door on 20th Ave NW. In the summer, they hope to have three or four tables outside.

Westwater says their cocktail menu has been hand-crafted to mirror the Americana vibe of the food and the decor. The menu boasts options like “The Jack Rabbit,” “The Moscow Mule,” and “The Vesper,” coined by James Bond in the 1953 novel Casino Royale. There are 15 cocktail options in all, and a handful of beer and wine options.

In addition to a large dinner menu, which will be served starting from 4 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, The Gerald will also be open for Sunday brunch (the first brunch will be on Sunday, April 1). When asked what sets them apart from the myriad of options on Ballard Ave, the owners stressed that they hope to bridge the gap between their neighboring bars and restaurants. Jodi Smith Westwater, who handles marketing for the restaurant, says there are restaurants, and then there are bars in Ballard. “We’re trying to fit in the middle,” she says, adding that they have great cocktails, but also offer an extensive dinner menu.

“Also,” Chef Green adds, “our price point sets us apart.” By locally sourcing ingredients, Green says the menu options will be reasonably priced. “We have great food that’s really thoughtful, but you won’t have to feel like you have to spend a lot of money.”

“At the end of the day, when people go out, they’re looking for an environment that makes them feel comfortable, service that makes them feel welcome, food that makes them feel comforted, and drinks that make them feel successful,” says Smith Westwater. The Gerald will be softly open on Friday, March 23. They also hope to plan a large grand opening party in a couple weeks.

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