Owners Sara Moot, David “Cheeto” Chilson and Pete Pigott sit at the bar of their new neighborhood watering hole.
Olaf's promises to fill void on 24th Ave NW
New neighborhood bar soft opening on Friday, 4 p.m.
For locals, Olaf's at 6301 24th Ave NW has a lot to live up to. In a sense, the new bar is taking the place of two other 24th Ave NW bars: The Viking and the Copper Gate, both beloved bars that harkened back to Old Ballard and represented the area's Scandinavian history.
First, there are a couple of rumors to dispel about the bar before it has its soft opening this Friday at 4 p.m.: Olaf's is not a sports bar or a karaoke bar or any mixture of the two. While they do plan to show Seahawks games because they are Seahawks fans, co-owners David "Cheeto" Chilson and Pete Pigott said they plan to have the volume off on the one flatscreen television hanging over the bar.
Rather, the owners aim to be a bar for the locals. A place where people of all kinds, from the older and the newer Ballard crowds, can come to sit down, have a pint and eat some grub.
Owners Chilson, Pigott and former Persimmon Chef/Owner Sara Moot were all fans of The Viking and in some ways, Olaf's is a tribute to the old watering hole. The name itself, Olaf, is taken from the nickname given to The Viking's mascot. The little guy can even be seen on the sign outside, raising a mug toward Valhalla, still representing a flavor of Old Ballard.
"We had all met while we were all drinking at The Viking, and when The Viking left, we were all sad," Chilson said.
But, Pigott clarified, "We're not trying to be The Viking. We're not trying to replace The Viking."
Moot will be in charge of the food. While they will still be figuring out the menu throughout the next month, customers can expect a few things to stay. Sandwiches, house-dipped corn dogs and hand-cut fries will all be part of the menu.
Perhaps the biggest difference -- other than the fact that the entire place has been de-nudie-fied -- is the bar. No longer the much-asked about Viking ship, the new, all-mahogany bar is more open and inviting. "You can see from one corner to the other," Chilson said.
Another big change is the new pinball room, adjacent to the old Pussy Room, with pinball machines supplied by the Pinheads. Local artist and Ballard High School grad Narboo painted the walls of the room as well as the men's and women's bathrooms.
As for the old Copper Gate decor, it has gone different places. The neon sign was given to the Pacific Fishermen Shipyard for them to light up at night. Various pieces of art were stolen before the Copper Gate was closed, other pieces were given to regulars and what's left is in storage. They had planned to give away the signature Viking ship bar, but they said it had been built never to leave and they ended up having to take it apart.
As for the backroom, it is largely staying the Pussy Room, though the owners have taken to calling it the "Red Room" or the "Womb Room" instead. The door and the paint scheme are remaining the same and there is now a projector screen which will be used for Seahawks games and movie nights.
The owners said they also plan to have music back there, most likely with a more lounge-y feel like jazz or something acoustic. "We'll see what the crowd wants," Chilson said. The owners said the backroom could also be reserved for private events.
Other than the renamed Pussy Room, though, Olaf's will be bearing no resemblance to the Copper Gate.
"The Copper Gate had a colorful history and we felt the name had run it's course," Chilson said. "It was time for a clean slate."
Olaf's will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. every day. The grand opening will be on the last weekend of September.
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