The long-shuttered Hi-Life (5425 Russell Avenue NW) is about to be reborn as a new restaurant and bar called Station 18 Drinks & Eats.
The location has been vacant since early 2020, when the short-lived Valentinetti’s closed abruptly. Hi-Life was owned by local restaurant company Chow Foods, and the pivot to Valentinetti’s in late 2019 was meant to bring new life into the historic firehouse. Chow had hoped that Valentinetti’s Italian menu and promises of puppet shows would bring in customers, but the restaurant closed after just over a month in business.
Now, the old firehouse is about to be revived: It will soon be reopened as Station 18, co-owned by Kate Barrett from Kate’s Pub and Erik Nilsen, who is also owner of Integrated Technology Solutions based in Bothell. Barrett and Nilsen are longtime friends—they met at Kate’s Pub through mutual karaoke friends.
“We have wanted to buy a bar and restaurant together for many years. We stumbled upon the listing for the Old Ballard Firehouse and scheduled a walk through,” Barrett tells My Ballard. “We INSTANTLY fell in love with the space. One thing after another fell into place, and we are now the custodians of this extraordinary spot.”
Station 18—named for the historic Ballard firehouse station (the new Station 18 firehouse is just down the street)—will be family-friendly until 9pm, and will allow dogs on the outdoor patio.
Barrett says the menu is still in development, but it will be casual dining fare with “well-executed comfort food, pub fare, and pizza,” she says. Once they have a full crew of employees, they’ll begin offering weekend brunch.
The bar will have an additional four taps added, bringing the total number to 12 beers on draft. They’re also working with local mixologists to create a cocktail menu.
“We aim to be a neighborhood gathering place,” Barrett says. “Making a bar feel like your home away from home has always been my goal in this industry. We are hoping to carry that concept right into the Station.”
Station 18 is currently hiring, and hope to be open by Labor Day weekend. As soon as they obtain their liquor license, they’ll announced a grand opening.
“We are already getting a ton of positive feedback from our neighbors as they pass by,” Barrett says. “Their excitement is contagious…. we are thrilled.”
Photos courtesy Kate Barrett