By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Dan Austin has dreamed of owning and operating his own restaurant/bar since he was 16 years old.
Since then, he’s spent more than half his life working in the food/beverage industry. And now his long-held dream is about to come true.
He is planning to open Peel & Press this fall at 6503 California SW in Morgan Junction.
You might recognize the address as Abbondanza Pizzeria. It’s been for sale a while, and its proprietors have been telling customers (and us, when we called) that they are closing at month’s end, but we didn’t know until this week that the space already had a new owner.
Austin says he gets the keys at the start of September and hopes to open Peel & Press after a month or so of remodeling. He and his family live nearby, in Gatewood, which is where we sat down to talk over coffee.
Austin plans to change the decor more than the menu, for starters. Pizza will be the focus at Peel & Press.
His work in the food/beverage industry has included companies of all sizes, particularly locally founded chains such as Spiro’s, Red Robin, and Starbucks, where he was a store manager at various Seattle locations for 7+ years.
But this will be his first time as owner as well as manager. Though he’s lived in West Seattle for more than five years, his dream almost came true about half an hour south, instead of in his back yard; Austin says he was in negotiations for a Tacoma restaurant when he discovered the listing for Abbondanza. “I was really excited … It’s a good chance to be part of the neighborhood, to work in the neighborhood where I live – we own a house nearby.”
He says he has been an Abbondanza customer and has enjoyed its food, so for starters, so “we’re going to be keeping a lot of the menu items, just tweaking some things, mainly the interior.” The new look will be more “industrial/rustic,” he explains, with exposed concrete floors and a new color palette; a designer is still working on the plan.
The menu’s “main focus (will be) on pizza – there’s a beautiful stone/brick oven in there.” Will Peel & Press deliver? It’s not in the immediate plan – “takeout for sure, deliver? Possibly in the future. We want to focus on the core business (for starters) – pizza and cocktails.”
He’s applied for a full liquor license; Abbondanza has been operating with beer and wine only. It already has a bar area, so Austin will be putting in a new bar top and adding seating as part of the remodeling. In addition to beverages for on-site consumption, he’s planning to offer growlers, with kegs on reserve for special occasions.
Back to the food – we asked Austin to describe the pizza style, for those not familiar with what Abbondanza’s been offering: “Slightly flatter crust, artisan toppings.” Gluten-free? He says they’re currently experimenting with recipes for a “good gluten-free dough” in hopes of including it on the menu soon. Also, they’ll offer “many salad options” and “some appetizers, a more-classy version of bar fare.”
The hours he’s expecting Peel & Press to keep, for starters: 3-11 pm Mondays-Thursdays, 3-midnight Fridays-Saturdays – “We might expand to later hours, depending on how the beverage service goes.” It will be all-ages until 8 pm, adults only for the last few hours; the first three hours, 3-6 pm, will be happy hour. And he hopes to be able to add Sundays before too long, depending on how business is, perhaps even with weekend breakfast/brunch. Morgan Junction has continued to grow as a restaurant/bar/retail area in recent years, and Austin hopes Peel and Press will add to the “more vibrant community of places to go.”
Oh, and about the name? We guessed it was a reference to peeling/pressing garlic. Wrong! According to Austin, the “peel” is for the baking/serving tool known as a pizza peel; the “press” refers to juicing that he expects to do for fresh-pressed juices in cocktails, “when seasonably available … not quite craft cocktails, but really clean and fresh.”
Again, Austin is hopeful that he might be able to open as soon as early October. We’ll be following up.