By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
After the flyers went up on Sunday, announcing a new restaurant/bar for what was briefly Shelby’s at California/Edmunds, we only came up with a bit to report – but promised a followup.
And now we have it, after sitting down Wednesday evening with the proprietors of the coming-soon Great American Diner and Bar.
Meet Singh Biryah and Glen Quadros, partners in the new operation.
They have decades of experience in the restaurant/hospitality business and say they’re up for the challenge of the corner some call cursed. “We know what’s been happening, we’re taking it up as a challenge,” Glen declared.
They have worked together before but not been business partners before. Most recently, they told us, they worked together at the Yankee Grill in Renton. Glen had just finished his last day there as food and beverage director, before meeting us at their project-in-progress for this interview, he said. Singh had worked there as executive chef, and says he also worked at Spot in Renton.
When they started looking for somewhere to open together, Singh said, they heard about the West Seattle Junction spot from vendors. “We liked the place, liked the area,” he told us.
Glen says he managed restaurants back east as well as here, and also “worked for several years on luxury cruise liners,” including managing a Princess Cruises restaurant.
But enough about them. What will the Great American Diner and Bar be like?
“An upscale diner, traditional favorites with a slight twist, all fresh ingredients … we thought we’d stick to Singh’s strength, good, wholesome, hearty American food,” Glen began. “We want people to be happy.” He said he’s inspired by the holidays when specials bring in families for “huge sales,” Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving. They see families dining out as sort of a tradition, “Grandma used to cook (for the holiday) at home, can’t do it any more. I appreciate the fact they want to celebrate with us.”
So they’re thinking family-oriented until late at night, when the atmosphere would “be kind of converted to take care of younger adults … we want it to remain elegant, classy, not noisy.”
Since they are on a relatively tight timeline to open, they don’t expect major decor changes – but they mention some wood flooring in the back, possibly to facilitate some dancing on the weekends. Some changes are planned to the bar so that it will have two sides, identical, to speed up service. The mural on the north inside wall will go away; a big-screen TV will be put up, “for sports, kids’ cartoons,” and more, says Glen, depending on the daypart..
They’re planning to open for breakfast at 7 am, continuing until 3 on weekends, 11 on weekdays. There’ll be a special lunch menu, a dinner menu, a “really good happy-hour menu 2-6 pm and 9-close.” The menu overall will be “exciting,” they promise, with “a few ethnic dishes too … a lot of value for your money.” Weekends are likely to include a buffet brunch, Glen says. The menus aren’t ready to preview yet, but Singh is almost done planning them. “Good, fresh meals,” he promises. “I can do anything.” He says in the years he worked at Spot, he evolved the menu, slowly, to one focused on freshness. While “Tavern” was long part of that establishment’s name, he says, it’s known for its food.
Along with the food, they want to emphasize service. “We want the servers to pay attention, make eye contact, smile … it’s the worst feeling in the world, to be ignored. Acknowledge them,” Glen says.
So of course we had to ask, since it was also a factor in comments following our short story on Sunday: What’s the idea behind the name?
Glen said it was inspired by nostalgia, in a way – in the spirit it might evoke. He spoke of senior citizens, who “made this country what it is – we don’t appreciate them enough. I really respect people of a certain generation. They did great things for America, great things for the world – the technology that was created came from right here. It has changed the way we think, the way we live. I’ve visited more than 100 countries around the world and this is the best place in the world to live in. People are so welcoming – I’ve been to places like France and Germany where you might be considered an outsider, but here, you are integrated into the society.”
Though neither lives in West Seattle – Singh lives in Kent, Glen in Sammamish – they see West Seattle as a place where you can have an establishment “where everybody knows your name.” Glen adds, “That’s what we aim to do – build a relationship with everybody who comes in, get to know their kids, their grandkids, provide a service for the neighborhood. And give back to the community as much as we can.”
So how soon will they open? They’re working on figuring that out; before the end of the month, if the. They had just found out the liquor license will take a month and a half. But they might decide to open before they get it. Meantime, they are working on signage – there’s a banner up now covering part of the old signage – and online presence.
And Singh is continuing to set up the kitchen – which he invites us to come see, before we leave. They had some cleanup to do from previous tenants, he explains … but the grill, for one, is now shiny and spotless. The corner might have history, but for Singh and Glen, it’s a fresh start.