By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The new owners of Skylark Café and Club in North Delridge are finally ready for their closeup.
They weren’t quite ready to talk back when we reported Skylark’s founders had sold it to them. But now they’ve been running Skylark for five weeks – they took over on September 1st and reopened it on September 3rd – and would like to invite you to get to know them, so, tomorrow, they invite you to an open house to get to know the new Skylark – which so far isn’t that much different from the old one, just continuing to evolve.
We sat down with new proprietors Matt Larson and Janna Richards to talk about what’s not changing, what is, and their hopes for the food-and-music venue:
First, a little bit about Matt and Janna. They are West Seattleites. Matt moved here in the mid-’00s; Janna’s roots go back farther, as her grandparents live here and she spent childhood summers with them. Both have backgrounds in art – particularly Janna, a visual artist who will be curating the Skylark walls as an in-house gallery, with the spotlight on stars of the local art world. There’s already work up:
The open house on Thursday coincides with their six-year-old daughter’s birthday – so it’ll be a party for her, too, with kids’ activities for those who choose to bring the whole family, as well as “cake for all,” says Matt.
He has a background in bartending/bar management – along with photography – and says, “It’s been a longterm dream of mine to have a place with cool art, good food, good drink, the whole package.”
His hope is that Skylark can become “an extension of people’s living rooms .. come out and relax.”
They intend to keep it as a music venue, and have a new booker, Mackenzie Mercer (a musician herself, with The Young Evils).
But they “can’t bank on music and drinks” alone to stay afloat, so they are ratcheting up the menu, with a new one to debut in late October/early November, right about the time they reopen Skylark for lunch – a daypart it stopped serving three years ago, before the area workforce expanded at West Seattle Corporate Center (“the flag building”) nearby, among other factors. Matt says he can’t wait till they start serving lunch; they plan to focus on soups, salads, sandwiches for lunch, a little lighter than the forthcoming dinner menu. Matt says he loves to cook and is having fun working with Skylark’s new chef. He’s been talking with neighbors, including Fire Station 36 a bit north, next to the bridge, to see what they want. “It’ll be an evolving menu, and seasonal.” (But don’t worry, some favorites like tater tots won’t be going away, they promise.) Skylark will continue with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, including handcrafted specialties such as chicken-fried steaks.
Another change – in addition to the projection screen on the stage, they’ve added a TV, something Skylark did not have before. But it will be off when there’s live music, Matt assures music fans (and bands): “The heart of this place always has been music.” While many other venues have live music now, this is the only “true” venue, he says, while being quick to explain he’s not knocking any of the others – it’s the combination of sound system, sight lines, and more.
In fact, Skylark’s decor will tilt more in the music direction. We hadn’t been inside since the ownership change, and while talking to Matt and Janna on Tuesday, first thing we noticed was a ruby-red-ringed drum set on a high ledge by the Skylark door. A little subtler is the vinyl trim along the top of the walls – that’s vinyl, as in records. There’s new paint and new furnishings, as well. “Freshened it up without totally overhauling,” is how they put it.
And some new features. They intend to set aside Thursdays as benefit nights – every Thursday, a different cause, from a fundraiser to maybe even promoting a band’s crowdfunding initiative. The idea is, one dollar from every drink would be donated to the cause of the night; even if you didn’t know about it, and found out when you showed up for dinner/drinks/music, it’s an easy way to do some good.
The all-ages open-microphone event on the last Sunday of every month will become a fixture. And there’s room for younger performers before the 9 pm cutoff during the weekly open-microphone events, too. Performers are able to get a full recording of their show – a cheaper alternative to studio time.
They hope to have a sizable helping of all-ages features, so that “kids can come and play and watch music while parents have a drink.” Janna says, “I wish I’d had more opportunities like that” in childhood.
So for starters, Thursday of this week is that open house we mentioned. It’ll be happy hour all night, starting when Skylark opens at 4 pm. They’ll offer some samples from the forthcoming new menu. Their daughter’s birthday will be celebrated around 5:30 pm. And they’ll have music starting around 6 pm.
Haven’t been to Skylark? 3803 Delridge Way SW, right across from the onramp to the high bridge.
P.S. If you have “a cause” that might qualify for the Thursday night benefits, you’re welcome to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire.