New owners have taken over The Canal (5300 34th Ave NW) in Ballard with plans to open it back up to the public.
The new owners are Paul and Stephanie Staley of Chomp! Foods catering. Paul, a self-trained chef, told My Ballard that they’d been looking for a space to open up a new venture, and jumped at the opportunity to bring new life into The Canal, which has for much of its existence been closed to the general public.
There has been activity at The Canal in the past few summers in the form of food trucks, live music, and a bar. However, Paul says the new version of The Canal will include regular hours for the public alongside weekly open-air markets and pop-ups. It will still serve as a venue, but that won’t be its only purpose.
The Staleys started Chomp Foods over a decade ago when they were living in a hotel. They were homeless at the time, Paul told My Ballard, due to the 2008 recession and losing their jobs in the restaurant industry.
Despite not having a solid home base, the Staleys started making cakes and confections, bouncing between Spokane, Portland, and Seattle.
“We got our first client at a fair,” Paul said; they made a wedding cake for a couple in the U District. That led to another client, and word-of-mouth kept them busy until they got full-time jobs at restaurants. They kept up with the catering on the side, and eventually grew it into a thriving business.
Chomp operates out of a commercial kitchen in Lower Queen Anne, and until they can get The Canal’s kitchen remodeled, they’ll be cooking at Chomp’s kitchen and bringing food over for guests.
Paul said the kitchen at The Canal was in dire need of a renovation—much of the equipment was 40-50 years old and virtually unusable. He said it will probably take two months to get it back in working order, and once it’s ready, they’ll be open Tuesday to Thursday serving Pacific Northwest-style tapas and small plates, and will eventually start a weekend brunch service.
The tapas and brunch, alongside a rotation of guest chefs, pop-ups, and the open-air market, will turn The Canal into an “amalgamation” of offerings that Paul said he hopes will make The Canal into a community hub.
One of The Canal’s upcoming events will be “Paella on the Patio”—he says the food truck Paella House will set up a couple of large paella pans on the patio and they’ll serve Spanish-themed cocktails.
There’s also a Father’s Day barbecue in the works for later this summer, and an open-air market on July 4.
“My main goal is to be part of the community,” Paul told My Ballard. “I’m looking forward to interacting with the community and doing all kinds of different events.”
The grand opening will be on June 10 from noon to 6 p.m. They’ll be handing out appetizers and mocktails with live music, a DJ, a photo booth, and silent auction.
Featured photo: The Canal on Instagram