It was the perfect day to take a leap of faith.
Last Monday, Leap Day, Jeff Sadighi and Doug Hall unveiled their new venture, The Independent Beer Bar, in downtown Everett. Focusing on craft beer and cider, the bar resides in a cozy corner of a building along Hewitt Avenue. True to its name, the bar will focus on craft beer and cider, but Hall was quick to point out that all beer drinkers are welcome.
“We’re going to be unpretentious about the beer,” Hall said. “We’ll probably always have Rainier on tap.”
Sadighi and Hall both have experience in the restaurant game. Sadighi’s grandfather started Sadighi’s, a fine dining restaurant in Bellingham, and Hall worked at the Seattle craft beer and wine bar Noble Fir for the past three years. Hall’s experience at Noble Fir was key to fine tuning the concept of their new venture.
“I kind of watched how this concept worked well and made sense,” Hall said of his time at Noble Fir. “We’re not trying to change the world. We want people to be able to sit down and see a friend and talk over a beer.”
The two friends had talked of starting their own beer bar for a while and began saving their tips and extra money in hopes of doing it. Once they had a comfortable amount of money put away, they began looking at where to do it. Seattle was too expensive, and Tacoma was too close to where Hall grew up in Pierce County. Everett turned out to be just right.
“I think Everett is the last place between Olympia and Bellingham that we haven’t already lived,” Hall said. “For us, Everett makes a lot of sense.”
The duo talked to the real estate agent who manages the space and received a deal on rent that will help them ease in better financially. As for the space itself, the updated decor, high ceilings, open windows, and solid wood bar and tables doesn’t exactly give it the “dive” bar aesthetic they envisioned.
“I call it accidentally classy,” Hall said. “We didn’t expect to have such a nice place. We kind of backed into it.”
The intimate space The Independent has taken over has a history of housing bars and small drinking establishments, including most recently Balefire, a bar that specialized in craft beer, cocktails and wine, which closed two years ago.
That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come with its challenges. A built-in cooler was constructed in the rear of the restaurant, cutting off half of the kitchen space and making large-scale food production impossible.
Also, like many dining establishments in the downtown Everett core, customer traffic can be spotty. Because it sits just a block up from Xfinity Arena, the restaurant will likely have wide swings in the number of customers depending on what’s going on down the street. Hall and Sadighi are prepared for that and plan to counteract it with more face time.
“One of us is always going to be here,” Hall said. “We want people to get to know us and see a familiar face when they walk in. We want this to be a neighborhood place with a lively atmosphere where people feel comfortable.”
They’ll have shuffleboard, too, and dogs are welcome.
As for the drinks, both men said they plan to have a selection of beer and cider — they plan to have three dedicated cider taps — that is varied and always changing. The plan is to have a selection with a mix of national brands like Firestone Walker and Sierra Nevada as well as local breweries. Hall said he’s already been in talks to get beers from Everett’s Crucible Brewing and Snohomish’s Sound to Summit Brewing on tap.
“We’re going to rotate all of the drafts all of the time. Once the keg is gone we’re on to something else,” said Hall, who mentioned customers could see 16 new tap handles between visits. “Don’t fall in love with a beer. Or do, and we’ll probably bring it back around in a month if we have a good response.”
The duo mentioned they’ll also be experimenting with a Randall — an ingredient-filled chamber the beer flows through to flavor it — from time to time. They also plan to have a trivia night and brewers nights once things calm down.
Serving beer without a kitchen can pose problems, but Hall said they’re going to be proactive to help customers.
Besides allowing food from the restaurants nearby, including Taco Del Mar right across the street, the server can also call in orders to Sa-Nae Thai and Major League Pizza and have them delivered and put on the customers’ bill.
The Independent Beer Bar
1801 Hewitt Ave., Everett; www.theindependentbeerbar.com
Hours: 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday; 3 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday
Happy Hour: 4 to 6 p.m. daily; extends to full visit for those who show up before 6 p.m.