Opening day for Alchemy in West Seattle

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At 3 pm today, The Junction’s newest drinking/eating establishment, Alchemy, officially opens its doors.

It’s the first of two venues that the partnership F2T Hospitality is opening in Junction 47, as first reported here last July.

And that’s where we sat down earlier this week to talk with the trio behind it – bar director Tony Larson, executive chef Larkin Young, and marketing/operations director Matt Mead.

The photos in our story are from last night’s “soft open” – right up until then, Matt explained, they had a “whole squadron of people building furniture.” They had also “gone antique shopping” for some of the decor, from chandeliers to “a tea kettle from the 1800s.” Alchemy seats 45.

Tony is the West Seattleite in the group – more than a decade here, including a few years working at Matador just up the street.

As the bar director, he wants to debunk what some people drew from the initial announcement, that Alchemy sounded potentially too pretentious for down-to-earth West Seattle.

“We’re here to cater to your experience,” he told us. “Sometimes you just want to come in and have a vodka-and-soda. If that’s the experience that our guests want, we’re more than happy to oblige.” But if you want to explore, “our staff will walk you through any questions you have … sometimes I know it can be a little intimidating. We want to take the pretense away and be there as a source of information for people.”

“We don’t want people to come in and think we’re opening some kind of ultralounge,” Matt emphasized. “Semi-upscale, but part of the neighborhood.”

“Every bar should feel like a neighborhood bar,” Tony added. “The era of the tie-and-vest pretentious bartender has come and gone; (you have to be) friendly, personable. focused on hospitality … I want us to really ingratiate ourselves in the neighborhood … there’s so much change coming to our neighborhood right now, we don’t want it to lose its identity, we want to add to the other great places around here.” The goal is to be “quiet and relaxed … I’m really big on bars being places with conversation, (no) loud music, a place to go with your friends, bring a date, after dinner …”

And the food?

“The menu is small,” noted Larkin, whose experience includes Canlis and Willows Inn (Lummi Island). “I want things to be recognizable but fun – we’ll have bar fare like olives and nuts, but they’ll be slightly different – we’re going to be a little playful.” With a “nice price point,” he promised, continuing: “So many great ingredients and things available out here – you have the Sunday (Farmers’) Market over here and that will play a lot in the kind of food we do.” They might even set up a booth, work with vendors, give tips to shoppers – “if you don’t know what to do with a couple bunches of red chard (maybe you would wonder) ‘what do these guys do with it?’.”

He says all his recipes are open (see the menu here) and he’ll be happy to share them if you want to try them at home. “The food I’m going to do is just straightforward and simple, (and it’s also) going to be a great place to come try new things … I’m a huge fan of vegetables, shellfish, seafood. And we will have an amazing little slider, (plus) deviled eggs that I will claim to be the best ever.”

The menus, both food and drink, will change with the seasons. And from the bar, Tony promises “some pretty cool surprises, a lot of fun presentations. (But) if you want to come in and have a Jack and Coke, I’m super-good at making Jack and Cokes.”

“These guys are humble, but they do an amazing job at what they do,” Matt noted. “I’m really, really excited for people to see what these two have created. Come in in a suit, or in jeans … everybody’s welcome.” (Everybody 21+, we should note.)

Hours at Alchemy for starters will be 3-midnight weekdays, weekend until closing time, 1:30-2 am. Tony hopes it could become a gathering place for those working at other establishments that might close earlier, at midnight or so, to “come in and have a proper drink.”

Alchemy is on the southeast side of Junction 47, 4717 42nd SW. 21+. As for F2T’s restaurant on the southwest side, Vine & Spoon, it’s due this summer, so more about that later.

18 Replies to "Opening day for Alchemy in West Seattle"

  • PurpleRings May 12, 2017 (11:05 am)

    Sounds marvelous. Is there a Happy Hour?

  • Lindsey May 12, 2017 (11:06 am)

    Sounds great! Looking forward to trying it out. Welcome to the neighborhood!

  • MamaR May 12, 2017 (11:22 am)

    Sounds awesome! Can’t wait!

  • tom May 12, 2017 (11:31 am)

    Beautiful, unusual space!  

    Nice to see an adults only bar for a change and something a little more sophisticated and different for WS with not a TV monitor in sight.  

    I’ll definitely be by for a drink and a bite.

    Best of luck guys!

  • Maryam May 12, 2017 (11:39 am)

    Welcome! So excited to have you in West Seattle… The space is BEAUTIFUL! 

  • B May 12, 2017 (12:54 pm)

    @WSB – The online menu is a broken link currently.

    • WSB May 12, 2017 (1:23 pm)

      It’s a dropbox link so maybe it doesn’t work if you don’t have a dropbox account … anyway, I have taken the liberty of downloading the pdf and reuploading. Caveat, this is what was linked there as of 1:22 pm today, could be replaced at any time.

      http://westseattleblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/MENU_May_2017-copy.pdf

      (I will also replace the dropbox link above with this) – TR

  • sam-c May 12, 2017 (3:49 pm)

    Sounds tasty! As far as dining there… it’s hard to tell from the darkish photos. Is the seating mostly lounge benches and coffee style tables?  So, for example, if you want to come try the halibut or something, you should sit at the bar?

    • CAM May 12, 2017 (11:02 pm)

      They had full tables set up when I walked over to try it tonight. Unfortunately they were only letting people in who had reservations and it sounds like that’s the story for the whole weekend. I hope that’s only the case for this weekend because I was kind of hoping this would have more of a bar/lounge feel than a restaurant that also serves drinks. The menu looks amazing though so I will try again at a later date. 

  • WS Mom May 13, 2017 (9:25 am)

    I tried to go for a quick drink at 4:30 with a friend on opening day.  The restaurant was relatively empty, perhaps 10 people total.  I was told that they were only taking people with reservations.  I asked “even at the bar” as we were only interested in getting a quick drink.  Although there were 8 empty seats at the bar, and all the dinning tables except 1 two top were empty, we  were turned away.  I have never heard of making reservations to get a drink at a bar. The whole thing left me with a very negative feeling about the place.  It is beautiful inside though.  To bad.  

    • Greg May 13, 2017 (6:40 pm)

      That is how soft openings work.  They don’t want to overwhelm the team as they get ore tuned to each other.  The worst thing that can happen to a restaurant or good lounge is to have poor service and reviews on opening.  Thus, soft openings are often friends and family that will be a bit more forgiving than the general public.  This is totally normal for a soft opening and will not be how the daily operations go, I can guarantee you that.  and I am not affiliated with the ownership, I just know how that industry works as I am a frequent in town diner and attend soft openings from time to time.  

  • Kate May 13, 2017 (10:20 am)

    Ditto to WSMom. We showed up shortly after 4 and just wanted a quick drink before heading over to meet friends for dinner elsewhere and we were turned away, though the place was 90% empty. Seems like poor customer service if you’re turning locals away on day 1.

    • Greg May 13, 2017 (6:40 pm)

      That is how soft openings work.  They don’t want to overwhelm the team as they get ore tuned to each other.  The worst thing that can happen to a restaurant or good lounge is to have poor service and reviews on opening.  Thus, soft openings are often friends and family that will be a bit more forgiving than the general public.  This is totally normal for a soft opening and will not be how the daily operations go, I can guarantee you that.  

      • WSB May 13, 2017 (7:34 pm)

        Just to clarify a couple points: This was not billed as a soft open. They did that Thursday night. Friday was official opening day. Also, they did not mention to us that it was reservations-only. If they had, we would have mentioned it. I can’t think of any other openings that were reservations-only, but we’ll add it to our list of standard questions for future pre-opening stories. – TR

  • Cera May 13, 2017 (12:20 pm)

    To be fair, I believe they announced that this first weekend would be reservation only (and done using a lottery system because of the number of people interested in going).  I’m sure after their grand opening if you show up and want to wait for a seat at the bar, that will be no problem.  As far as people showing up and seeing empty seats–that’s how reservations work, right?  You reserve a spot.  They save that spot for you.  

    My husband and I also stopped by around 5 and weren’t surprised to be turned away.  It also was packed by then, btw.  No biggie.  Place looked awesome.  Can’t wait to check it out!

  • KittyJorts May 13, 2017 (2:58 pm)

    I agree with you, Cera! 

    I went on Open Table and reservations for tomorrow are still available. And all of next week too. I, for one, am glad that if I make a reservation my seat will be available when I arrive!

  • CAM May 13, 2017 (4:23 pm)

    Cera and Kittyjorts, I think the surprise people are expressing about the reservations is a valid point when the owners emphasized in this very article that they wanted this to be a place that people could drop in at and as having a relaxed environment. I’m not opposed to places with reservations but the only bars I can think of that take reservations for tables that are primarily there for cocktails are places that I would probably not consider relaxed or somewhere I would want to go on a regular basis. 

    Maybe the marketing has been off base and this is now being pushed as a restaurant first. I also haven’t seen any discussion of this lottery for tables anywhere prior to Cera’s comment. I was really excited about this place and I’m going to try it again, but if I have to make a decision a week in advance that I want to go out for a cocktail I’m probably going to pass. 

    • Greg May 13, 2017 (6:44 pm)

      I am certain it will be more easily accessible shortly.  This is how soft openings work,  it is standard for most nicer places.  

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