It looks like Crooked Nail has closed

The neighborhood bar Crooked Nail, which is a bit off the beaten path at the corner of NW 56th St. and 17th Ave. NW, has apparently closed its doors for good.

The news first appeared in the My Ballard Facebook Group, and the business is not answering its phone or email. Its Facebook page has been removed.

We discovered a liquor license application for the same address for a new establishment called “Corner Shot” under the name of Kacy Fitch, co-owner of the Zig Zag Cafe in Pioneer Square. So there’s a good chance Crooked Nail will become Corner Shot, just in time for the big Valdok development to open across the street.

Neighbors in the My Ballard Group had only good things to say about the Crooked Nail, which had been developing a steady clientele since it opened last year. However the location has been challenging for former tenants over the years.

Skål Beer Hall is coming to Old Ballard

Over the years, Ballard has slowly lost Scandinavian mainstays like Olsen’s Scandinavian Foods, the Scandinavian Bakery and the Viking. New apartment complexes appear with Scandinavian names, slogans and design flourishes — which the city’s design review board likes to see – but it has little to do with our neighborhood’s Scandinavian roots.

That’s why we, the Geeky Swedes, are happy to hear about a new Scandinavian establishment called the Skål Beer Hall that’s coming to the old People’s Pub space in Old Ballard.

“I’m a veteran of the craft beer industry and my Nordic heritage is of great importance to me,” explains Ballard resident and Skål founder Adam McQueen. “We aim to honor the Nordic roots of our neighborhood through a relaxed, communal beer hall experience – what we envision a Viking mead hall would be like today.”

In ancient Scandinavia, a Viking mead hall was the center of the community and a welcoming spot to gather or to host visitors from afar, McQueen explains.

Skål (which rhymes with “bowl” and means “cheers” in Norwegian) will feature an open hall with a “huge central fireplace to gather around on dreary Seattle nights,” he says. “We’ll have large ale horn mugs and Norse mythology inspired touches.”

The front will be getting a makeover, including a “heavy wood door fit for a Viking.”

Not only will Skål feature local craft beer, cider and regional wine, but also mead (fermented with honey) and specialty cocktails – including the Scandinavian favorite, aquavit.

“We’re looking forward to featuring some of our terrific but hard-to-find local products as well as some Scandinavian imports,” he says.

The open kitchen is inspired by the idea of a Viking butcher shop. McQueen explains: “Imagine (if you will) gathering near a roaring fire at the edge of a fjord. Here is where you’d find our food. There will be Nordic influences, traditional bar snacks, and a whole lot of meat (but meatballs are unlikely, sorry Grandma)!”

McQueen says he’s collaborating with Lexi, the chef/owner of the Old Ballard Liquor Company, to create the food concept. With a Swedish family heritage, she has “a wealth of experience with contemporary Scandinavian cuisine and aquavit,” he said.

And if it can’t get any more Scandinavian than that, long-time Ballard residents may remember a Scandinavian restaurant called Vasa Grill that occupied the same space in Old Ballard before People’s Pub (5429 Ballard Ave NW.) “We’ll pay homage to both the Vasa Grill and People’s Pub through details that recognize their former presence in our space,” McQueen says.

Skål Beer Hall will be opening in “early summer.” In the meantime, you can sign up for updates on Skål’s new website and social accounts. 

Trailbend Taproom to open in the middle of Ballard brewery country

The sign has gone up over the Trailbend Taproom, a new restaurant and bar from the owners of The Dray and The Yard.

Located deep in Ballard’s brewery district at 1118 N.W. 50th St., Trailbend is slated to open in March. With 42 taps and a wood-fired oven, the new restaurant and bar aims to capitalize on the growing brewery crowd in the area.

The taproom is the brainchild of Jamie Butler, Travis Eaton and Andy Walls, the founders of The Dray in Ballard and The Yard in Greenwood. The West Woodland location will be the most ambitious of the three.

“We’ve been trying to find a location there for a while,” said Butler, who says his Ballard home is “triangulated” between the three locations. “The food trucks are great, but some people prefer a sit-down restaurant, and the neighborhood is lacking that.”

The taproom takes up the first floor of The Klotski, a new three-story office development. With tall ceilings, concrete floors and custom woodwork and metal, Trailbend looks like a larger Colorado version of The Dray. Pending city approval, they also plan to open an outside patio.

The heart of Trailbend is the 42 taps, stretching 20 feet down the bar. On the wall, a giant sign with movable wooden letters details what’s available at a given moment, “inspired in part by an old train station sign,” Butler says.

The taps will feature “a good representation” of beer from the breweries next door. In fact, Butler says he’s working with Stoup Brewing to create “Stoup Trailbend IPA,” a co-branded beer for the opening. We also spotted Reuben’s, Populuxe and Fremont on the sign. Also on tap: cider, ginger beer, wine, Stumptown cold brew and a cocktail or two. “There will be a little bit of everything for everyone on tap,” he said.

As far as food, Trailbend is designed around its Wood Stone Oven — a popular oven created by a Bellingham company — that will create wood-fired pizza. They’ll also serve entrees, sandwiches and salads to attract folks in the neighborhood, too.

“There are a lot of homes around there,” he said while we talked at The Dray, a few blocks away. “We wanted to create a place that’s good for neighborhood.”

We’ll keep you updated as Trailbend gets closer to launch.

(Bottom two photos courtesy of @trailbendtaproom on Instagram)

Ballard bar named among ‘Best Bars in America’ by Esquire

There are a LOT of great Ballard bars, but Esquire magazine picked Barnacle in its list of the top 24 “Best Bars in America” in 2017. Located in Old Ballard in the Kolstrand Building, Barnacle is often a staging area for the Walrus & The Carpenter, but it’s grown into its own destination.

(Photo from TheBarnacleBar.com)

Esquire called it a “jaunty secret clubhouse” with “uniformly delicious” cocktails and a “deep, smart wine list.”

Like Walrus, Barnacle is a Renee Erickson creation. Last year Erickson won the James Beard award for best Northwest chef, and a Bon Appétit magazine article exclaimed that “Renee Erickson makes us want to move to Seattle.” Get in line.

Mayor proposes longer bar hours

Mayor Mike McGinn is considering a controversial proposal to cut back on rowdy behavior that sometimes erupts when Seattle bars close — let bars set their own closing times, even if it’s later than 2 a.m. One of the options includes allowing bars to serve liquor all night.

Here in Ballard, the proposal would apply most to Old Ballard., where most of the neighborhood nightlife congregates on weekends. Acting Seattle Police Chief John Diaz supports the idea, reports the Seattle Times, but the State Liquor Control Board — which would have to approve it — has its doubts.

The city plans to ask for public feedback on the proposal until Sept. 15th, and both the state and the city council would have to approve it.

The Bit Saloon is closing November 1st

One of Ballard’s oldest bars, The Bit Saloon is closing its doors on November 1st, two employees confirmed to My Ballard. “We’re closing November 1st! Come have a drink or four with us!” exclaims the bar’s MySpace page.

“It’s complicated,” an employee told us, explaining that an effort is already underway to save the bar. Another employee said “The Bit” will close on November 1st, but there’s a chance it will reopen soon thereafter.

The Bit Saloon has been in Ballard since 1947 — originally called John’s Offshore Tavern — and its edgy, dive bar atmosphere is a local favorite. Located in the shadow of the Ballard Bridge, the bar is also home to some of the best local punk/metal acts in Seattle. We’ll post an update as soon as we learn more. (Thanks nuthatch for the tip in the forum!)

New bar ‘Shelter’ opens on Leary

Friends and family members packed Shelter on Thursday night, a “soft launch” for a new bar on Leary Ave. launched by longtime Ballard resident Kevin Carlson. Located in the space once occupied by The Station Bistro — right across from Bit Saloon — Shelter officially opens to the public this Friday night.

As the name suggests, Shelter features a large, outdoor patio — covered with wood and clear glass — with a unique, circular indoor-outdoor bar. “A lot of people thought I was crazy to do an outdoor area in Seattle,” Carlson said. “It’s unique. It’s different.” The outdoor bar and patio feature heating lamps and a fireplace to help patrons brave the cold winter temperatures. The menu is “sandwich driven,” Carlson said, and there are several entrees, like carne asada, as well as intriguing starters like the jalapeno peanut butter popper.

Carlson wanted Shelter to open in time for the summer months, but he said a “nightmare” issue with city permits delayed the grand opening until this week. “I cried on the way to work,” he told us tonight. “I actually didn’t know it was going to happen. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m just glad the doors are open. I just hope Ballard enjoys it.” (Thanks, Kirk!)

‘The Station Bistro’ to become ‘Shelter’

Kevin Carlson loves Ballard. He was born and raised here and has always dreamed of opening a place. Now his dream is coming true.

Carlson bought The Station Bistro on Leary, which closed in December of last year, and he’s transforming it into a new bar called Shelter. He’s doubling the square footage by adding a giant outdoor area that he hopes will be a year-round gathering space. There will be heating lamps during the colder months, and he’s working with the city to get a fireplace outside. With the garage doors opening out to the new patio, Carlson says it will be a one-of-a-kind bar. “It’s gonna be super unique,” he says, “I don’t know about another indoor/outoor bar.”

The design of the new construction has a “mid-century modern vibe” inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright. Carlson wants to create something that people can’t miss. Along with the new patio, he’s planning to line the perimeter of the property with trees and green. Shelter will have “really good bar food,” Carlson tells us. He’s thinking Latin-infused foods like Cuban sandwiches, good salads and some vegetarian dishes. He’s hoping to open by the end of July, but it all depends on permits from the city.

Happy St. Patty’s day

Today’s the day when everyone is Irish, no matter what your heritage. Here are a few places in Ballard to celebrate:

“St. Patrick’s Day Party” at The Sunset Tavern, with The Thoughts, Pickwick, Molly Rose. Party starts at 9 p.m. and costs $6 (206-784-4880).

“St. Patrick’s Day Ceili” at Tractor Tavern, with Tom Creegan, Dale Russ, Mike Saunders, Ciaron O’Mahony, 8 p.m., $7

Conor Byrne opens at noon today. Crumac plays from 4-7, and the Tallboys take the stage from 9-12. $10 or $20 if you want a t-shirt.

Of course there are the Irish Pubs around Ballard, like Molly Maguires and The Old Pequilar. Stay safe out there!

Noise complaint filed from new senior center

That didn’t take long. A resident at the brand new Landmark Senior Center along Leary and Ballard Avenues has filed a noise complaint with the city.

“Now she wants to switch rooms, which is going to be a problem,” the facility’s executive director told the Ballard News Tribune. Of course, Ballard Ave. can get a little loud, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. The bar manager at Hattie’s Hat, just across from the Landmark, says that’s par for the course along Ballard Ave. “I’m hoping they aren’t the golf-course retirees,” Aimee Shepard said. “I’m hoping they’re more the Manhattan martini-type people.” Somehow, we doubt that’s the case. By the way, the Landmark’s website describes it as “vibrant urban living with the character of a small town.” Stay tuned for this debate to heat up as more residents move into the 146-unit facility.