West Seattle food news: Swinery planning a remodeling shutdown

Thanks to WSB’er “grr” for the tip – The Swinery has just announced online that they’ll be closing soon for at least two weeks of remodeling. They’re going to be closed tomorrow for related work, the post says, adding that they’ll reopen on Friday and then be open through Feb. 21st, closing 2/22 to start work to finish their kitchen and get it “licensed.” You can read the entire explanation here.

20 Replies to "West Seattle food news: Swinery planning a remodeling shutdown"

  • grr February 10, 2010 (10:51 pm)

    I’m gonna have bacon withdrawls. Hang in there, Swinery..The community loves you, and will be there to support you in full when you reopen!!!

  • maplesyrup February 11, 2010 (10:50 am)

    This will be a lot better for them in the long run, so I can manage a 2 week hiatus.

    Good luck Swinery!

  • Jenn February 11, 2010 (12:54 pm)

    I am so glad to hear that they are getting the kitchen project finished up. I will not look at it as a “breakup” with my bacon friends but more as a self imposed bacon rehab. Good luck!

  • Lynne February 11, 2010 (1:57 pm)

    Will these folks ever be legitimate? I am fearful of consuming anything this business prepares let alone butchers themselves based on their long history. This “shut-down” comes as no surprise. Regretfully, this member of the community says buyer beware.

  • christopherboffoli February 11, 2010 (3:16 pm)

    Lynne: You’re always better served to actually read the post you are commenting on, especially when you are disparaging a small business in our community that is doing its best to survive.
    The owners and staff of the Swinery have a “long history” of being involved with some of the most delicious, interesting and innovative food being prepared in Seattle. The issue here has absolutely nothing to do with compliance. The Swinery is fully licensed and approved for the food they are producing. To me the problem is that this nascent business is at the whims of a developer who is tearing down their commercial kitchens at a time when the sudden death of a key contractor for the new space has reset the approvals process for their ongoing renovations.
    THIS member of the community says that to kick them while they are down by suggesting that their products are unsafe is reprehensible. I’m rooting for the Swinery to succeed because I like having the choice to buy sustainable, humanely raised meats and house-made deli products in my community. If you choose not to patronize them then great! More bacon for me!

  • maplesyrup February 11, 2010 (3:43 pm)

    What’s this “long history”?

    Because everything I’ve seen from them so far has been awesome. High quality products, delicious food that’s hard to find anywhere else, and really, really cool people.

  • KBear February 11, 2010 (4:01 pm)

    Sounds like the ill-formed opinion of a bacon-hater to me.

  • Lynne February 11, 2010 (4:10 pm)

    I had no idea my opinion was so damaging. Consider it fully retracted. All my best to the Swinery.

  • Sage February 11, 2010 (4:46 pm)

    Sure, I am a bacon-hater myself, but there *is* a reason the word “licensed” was — appropriately — put in quotes. Health & safety regulations have not traditionally been on the top of the list for these guys in their past ventures. There’s always a reason and a story behind the various, multiple regulatory issues, but there always seems to be a story and there always seems to be an issue.
    Anyway, it’s all academic to me since I’m not a bacon-eater anyway, but it does make me cringe when folks act as if locally-owned is the same thing as “good”. Tell that to the clients of Southwest Plumbing!

  • christopherboffoli February 11, 2010 (6:01 pm)

    Sage: I honestly think that’s both an over-simplification and an exaggeration. This article was not about new health code issues with the Swinery. This is about electrical permits they need in relation to their ongoing improvement of their store that are out of sorts because their electrician died.
    I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a small business that didn’t have problems and missteps, especially in their first year. Even Bakery Nouveau, where they are consistently firing on all cylinders, there are still problems that arise in the course of doing business. Read their blog sometime. You’d be surprised how, even now three years in, whole batches of food are ruined when someone forgets to put in the sugar in the batter or burns a half-sheet full of croissants.
    I’d agree with you that locally owned does not automatically mean it is good. But in this case, it does. I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about this business as I am if I didn’t perceive a discernible difference in the quality of their products. There truly is something to the notion that an heirloom breed pig raised humanely on a small local farm produces pork with a flavor profile that is much richer than when it is one among thousands raised in a excrement-laden feedlot. I used to be quite content to buy ham at the deli counter of local supermarkets. But then I tasted the ham at the Swinery and realized how different ham can taste when it is not pumped up to half its weight in salt brine. The Swinery folks have made things harder on themselves with their commitment to locally-sourced meat. And that pays off for me as a customer in the quality of their hand-made products.
    Lastly, as someone who attended a class at the Culinary Communion when it was based in Morgan Junction, and attended one of the secret/underground Gypsy dinners, I can tell you that my observation was that the CIA-trained chefs associated with Claycamp always had a level of compliance that met or exceeded health code regulations, even when they didn’t have a piece of paper that said so. You’d get no argument from me to say that Claycamp has made some mistakes in the past. But personally I’d just as soon devote my energy into criticizing the many sources in West Seattle for factory-farm, over-processed, chemical-laden foods and give the people who are actually trying to do something progressive a break.

  • grr February 11, 2010 (6:38 pm)

    100% correct, Christopher.

  • Sage February 12, 2010 (6:17 am)

    Christopher: that’s fair and thoughtful makes sense to me. But I do think we have codes & regulations for a reason, and I don’t think anyone should get a free pass just because their food is tasty and carefully produced, which by all carnivorous accounts this stuff is. Back in the days when this style of food production was all we had, there were all kinds of food-borne illnesses going around — enough to inspire the entire idea of food regulation — so it’s not true as some suggest that old-fashioned & artisanal is automatically safe. (No, I don’t think you were suggesting that, but I still think the point is worth making.)
    It’s probably easier to feel this way not being a bacon-eater, but I do still think it’s a good thing that the guy continues being haunted by his past here. It’s too recent to overlook. If he’s past all that, great, and this shadow will fade. But it’s his own fault and it’s entirely fair that every “regulatory” issue he encounters will be highly suspicious for a few years to come, at least. When he finally lives it down through years of cleanliness, success, compliance, and honest business practices, more power to him!

  • austin February 12, 2010 (8:37 am)

    Despite certain people devoting energy to complaining about something that doesn’t affect them in any way, I’m greatly looking forward to our friends at the Swinery opening back up after the remodel, and I think I’m going to have to stop through today to see what I need to help clear out! It’s so great to have a choice option for locally sourced and high quality meats in the neighborhood.

  • Geoffrey Garza February 12, 2010 (8:53 am)

    Thank you Christopher for your well thought out and balanced comments. Thank you also Sage for your reasonable rebuttal. Long live open dialogue, free speech and braised pork belly!

  • cjboffoli February 12, 2010 (9:21 am)

    Sage: Again, I have no idea why anyone here would mention issues with health code compliance because that is not what this story was about and it seems to be in use here just to further disparage the Swinery owner. I personally don’t think that making a mistake in one’s past gives everyone the right to dredge it up again in public at the mere mention of a person’s name. Claycamp isn’t a politician. He makes bacon. This practice seems to be a standard that much of old media is comfortable with. So I’m not surprised that people seem to think that kind of blood sport is appropriate here.
    I don’t have any interest in debating the regulation of meat products in the Upton Sinclair sense of the word. But safety is not the true intention of the so-called protection provided by government health & safety codes. Liability is. Think of all of the food recalls that are always in the news. Vegetables AND meat get recalled all the time. Excessive regulation still fails to protect us. It is industrial production that makes our food less safe.
    Maybe you should discount my opinion on this matter as I’ve consumed raw milk right from the cow in Patagonia, and squirming octopus tentacles in the fish markets of Asia, but I’ve tasted so many wonderful cured meats and cheeses in Europe that we simply can’t and don’t have here because of our government’s attempts to sterilize every bit of our food within an inch of its life. And if you suggest that there is no difference in flavor I’d say you wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. The bureaucratic governments of Europe usually manage to screw up more than our government does. But at least they’re smart enough to keep their hands off the food.

  • rw February 12, 2010 (4:04 pm)

    boffoli FTW.

    And for the Swinery- godspeed.

  • grr February 13, 2010 (12:04 am)

    not to get off on a tangent..but…Chris..you’re SOOO right about European food! I’ve had ‘dairy’ issues (like most americans), but on a trip to Italy (and Greece), I was willing to ‘deal with it’…the Gelato looked too good..

    I tried some… NO reaction. tried a little cheese..NO reaction…by the 2nd day, I was eating anything I wanted.-

    Short story (especially in Italy), they pasteurize a few degrees less than we do (and for a bit longer, I believe). That SMALL difference is a HUGE one, as far as the chemcial breakdown of the food is concerned. Our temps completely change the structure of the dairy products. That’s why there’s such an epidemic of ‘lactose intolerance’ in the US that simply doesn’t happen in Europe.-

  • wseadawg February 13, 2010 (10:09 am)

    Wow! With all the rhetoric, speculation and postulating going on here, I don’t know whether to hug and kiss the proprietors, or stage a boycott or sit in at their shop!

    Could a few folks take a breather and not insist on perfection, which is firstly, unattainable, and secondly, the enemy of the good. Most of the complaints and gripes could be dealt with by doing a little research and asking a few questions of the butcher. (Of course, that’s asking a lot of this passive aggressive population, I realize).

    If anyone thinks restaurants are per se healthy just because they haven’t been cited for violations, they are kidding themselves. Like any other regulators, health inspectors only cite what they find and they can’t be everywhere.

    I’m not defending poor food handling practices. I’m rather saying don’t hang somebody based on rumors and innuendo. Be empirical at least.

  • grr February 14, 2010 (3:40 pm)

    and everything I’ve come to understand of the current Swinery situation, it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with any kind of ‘health’ violations of any kind. It’s a matter of their existing off-site kitchen bldg being demod (which has NOTHING to to with the Swinery people), and the exisitng space needing to be finished.

    the electrician doing the work passed away suddenly (not work related), and there was an easement issue with the power coming from the pole. It would be great if a local WS Certified Electrician could contact the Swinery people and see if they could help out somehow!!!!

  • Cat Woman February 18, 2010 (5:19 am)

    grr – why wait for an electrician to call them? I’ve found some wonderful local contractors through Yelp and Angies List (I usually look at comments on both sites before choosing.) I’ve been able to get pretty quick turnaround on requests for service- some contractors have come out the same or next day when needed. The Swinery folks should check out those sites and then choose/hire a good local electrician

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