EVERETT — Pigs will fly. Again.
The Flying Pig is coming back to Everett.
What’s up with that?
The original Flying Pig Brewing Co. was a popular downtown pub for nearly 15 years before closing in 2011.
“This will be the Flying Pig 2.0,” said owner Joel Starr.
The opening is slated for mid-July at 1414 Hewitt Ave.
It’s in that narrow corner building made famous when TV chef Gordon Ramsay came to town in late 2012 to make over the Prohibition Grille for the series “Kitchen Nightmares.”
Starr remodeled the space that has had two tenants since the Prohibition closed, despite the Ramsay reboot. The massive back bar that Ramsay proudly painted cherry red is gone, but his gold zigzags on the brick walls live on. The kitchen where the infamous “Soup of the Day” was made is now in full view. The awnings are down, letting lots of light in.
“I’ve had friends come through go, ‘This is going to be sexy,’” Starr said.
Starr and a business partner, Joe Johnson, started the original Flying Pig as a micro brewery in 1997 on Colby Avenue. They sold the place in 2007 and the new owners closed up shop in 2011.
A decade later, Pig power remains strong.
“We call ourselves ex-Pigs affectionately,” said Starr, 61, who has two Sizzler steak restaurant franchises with Johnson. “It was an important project in my career. It was people, 100 percent. My crew and my guests were the only reason we succeeded.”
Expect 10 to 12 items on the new menu, including some old Pig faves.
“The mango bango pulled pork sandwich was beyond reproach with its popularity. We’ll bring that back,” Starr said. “The Pig pie won’t be a pizza in this version. It will be a flatbread. We are going to do the number one appetizer from back in the day, the bacon and cheddar cheese fries.”
The pub’s broiled chicken Ricardo recipe was featured on the Herald food page in 2003 by columnist Judyrae Kruse.
Other items are TBD.
“Signature items, Everett will tell me,” Starr said. “If I’ve got a lunch crowd, I know how to play that.”
He said the new place will be casually upscale.
“We are there to serve, period. Straight-up,” he said. “There’s only going to be five TVs.”
Starr said he tried to buy the Hewitt building a dozen years ago but lost to his good friend Morrie Trautman.
“I wanted this building years ago when I did my original Tailgater Joe’s. Morrie snapped it out from under me,” Starr said.
Trautman sold the building in 2020 to Lance Miller and Robert Hamre. They recruited Starr to open a bar.
Starr decided to keep the original name that was sparked over beers before opening the original Flying Pig nearly 25 years ago with Johnson.
“We had been looking to do something and a few deals had fallen through and he said to me, ‘You know what, by the time we get a deal to go through and open a bar, pigs will fly,’” Starr said. “And we’re laughing. I said, ‘Hold it, the Flying Pig Brewing Company.’”
The name “is intellectual property, but we don’t own it,” Starr said.
Colorado has two Flying Pig Burger Co. locations. Oceanside, California, is home to the posh Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen. The Flying Pig in North Carolina will deliver a $7.25 barbecue plate with hush puppies, if you live in Shelby.
Cincinnati has a Flying Pig Marathon. Flying Pig Grooming sells pet pampering products on the internet.
“There’s a Flying Pig Hostel in Amsterdam,” Starr said. “One of the bartenders I just hired actually stayed there.”
Andy Reaves is among the ex-Pigs looking forward to the new place. Reeves, an Everett civil engineer, worked across the street from Starr’s original pub back in the day and went often for lunch.
“Joel is that genius guy. He’ll make it go,” Reaves said. “He’s dynamic and happy and good at customer service.”
The Flying Pig 2.0 in Everett will be the fourth bar in 11 years in the building with a colorful past of belly dancing, dining and Ramsay stardom.
Crowds of Ramsay’s fans gathered on Hewitt to try to get a glimpse of the brassy chef during the week-long filming for the show that aired in 2013.
Ramsay slammed the place for its Southern food and bare bellies. He changed the menu and the name to Gastropub. A video clip of Prohibition owner Rishi Brown explaining the “Soup of the Day” went viral with 7 million views.
A kinder, gentler Ramsay returned seven months later for a revisit episode full of praise. Then-Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson proclaimed July 31, 2013, “Prohibition Gastropub Appreciation Day.” Ramsay signed autographs and a fan’s prosthetic leg.
His makeover magic, along with Brown’s hard work and determination, lasted three years. In 2016, Brenton Holland, who also owned a nearby gay bar, bought the Prohibition’s business operation from Brown. He replaced Gastropub with Grille & Saloon and focused on steaks and whiskeys. He also added a drag-show brunch on Sundays.
Less than a year later, Holland closed the doors. James Abbott, owner of Buck’s American Cafe at the other end of Hewitt, seized the chance to open another place, this one with fine dining, chic cocktails and romantic ambience.
Abbott’s closed in June 2020 due to lost revenue from the pandemic. Abbott called it “a casualty of these times.”
Starr sees the Flying Pig 2.0 as a good sign of the times.
“We need to be back out problem solving as a community. We need to be problem solving over iced teas and pints of ales,” Starr said. “What a year it has been.”