Garlic Jim’s in The Junction to reopen under new ownership

First word of this came in the WSB Forums on Wednesday; Angel posted to say her brother and the rest of the West Seattle Garlic Jim’s staff had lost their jobs when the Junction pizzeria suddenly closed. Her post blamed new owners for “laying off the entire staff.” Much discussion ensued, so we sought out the new owners to find out their side of the story.

They are Jeff and Page Taylor, who since April have owned a Garlic Jim’s in Edmonds, and since Wednesday, own the one in West Seattle. We talked by phone this afternoon with Jeff Taylor, who told us they’re working at the Edmonds pizzeria tonight to give the staff a Christmas Eve break. Ahead – his explanation of what happened, and their plans for the West Seattle store, which first opened in 2007, at least a few prior owners ago:

Jeff says the owner who sold the franchise to the Taylors, Bob Houston Enterprises, had owned it just eight months. City records show the parent corporation, which is based in Snohomish County, was the owner before that; we also know it changed hands in 2008, then went up for sale again, but there’s no other information about who else owned it along the way.

Jeff says he has no direct knowledge of why Houston Enterprises decided to sell so soon, but notes that the store needed a lot of repairs and cleaning these past few days as he and Page got ready to reopen it. Their intent had always been to have a second store, he says, but not necessarily so soon – until they got word of this opportunity, and jumped on it.

Regarding the WSB Forums post blaming the “new owners” for laying off the staff, Jeff says, “It wasn’t us,” it was the previous ownership – the employees worked for Houston Enterprises, they lost their jobs when it closed abruptly, and they were notified by Houston Enterprises (who we have not been able to reach for comment). Anyone working for the Taylors, Jeff said, whether they worked for the former owner or not, would have to be approved under their insurance, among other aspects of the process. “It’s an unfortunate situation,” he acknowledges. He says they met three former employees who came in to pick up belongings while the Taylors were cleaning up the restaurant, and invited them to apply – he says two of them did. They took applications in a four-hour open-interview event yesterday (as advertised here).

He is hoping any past concerns – whether the employee situation or something else – will not be held against them as they start fresh, with what he calls an “entirely different” operation – “in a good way.” They’ll be open 11 am to midnight seven days a week, and hope to have a community open house once they’re up and running, to invite people in to get to know them. Beer and wine won’t be available until their liquor license is approved.

They plan to replicate store-specific online communication with the community, as inaugurated in Edmonds (where the store has its own website, Facebook page, and Twitter account). And for the foreseeable future, you’ll find them in the kitchen at their newly purchased restaurant; they say they don’t plan to be absentee owners – they’ll likely spend long hours there for starters, till everything’s running the way they want it to and they can pull back a bit.

29 Replies to "Garlic Jim's in The Junction to reopen under new ownership"

  • lenguamor December 24, 2010 (7:45 pm)

    Saying from the old country: He who *has* a store must *mind* the store.
    Absentee ownership can work, but it’s rare.

  • SomeGuy December 24, 2010 (8:34 pm)

    Welcome to the neighborhood Jeff and Page. Look forward to trying the “new” Garlic Jim’s in the near future. Merry Christmas!

  • Civik December 24, 2010 (10:02 pm)

    Was kinda frustrated about the close ’cause I only found out about it Wednesday when I tried to order some pizza for a gathering at my place. Anyway, welcome to the neighborhood and look forward to more great pizza’s.

  • Mak December 24, 2010 (10:14 pm)

    These new owners better step the game up! I was there from day one of Garlic Jims back in 2007 and worked there until September 2009.. we had gone through several owners and different managers! It was non-stop chaos and as a former employee and former customer I know the ins and outs and the things that have gone on. The place is dirty and the employees are mistreated. Its really disappointing to know that everyone was fired 5 days before Christmas. No matter who is to blame. I plan to not enter the establishment ever again. Several of the people fired were my close friends and I will support them in not going back. Hopefully they can get this all together and business going again.. The junction is nearly the busiest restaurant/business area in West Seattle, if the damn place cant survive in that store front maybe its time for Garlics Jims or as we call it “Shady Jims” to pack there bags and go back to Kent where corporate is!

  • formeremployee December 24, 2010 (10:35 pm)

    I was the old gm of garlic jims, and sorry, it was Jeff’s call to lay us all off. None on my friends, and many regular customers will be supporting that store.

  • JanS December 25, 2010 (12:52 am)

    Mak..the new owners had nothing to do with that. It sounds like the last owner didn’t know how to run a business, and simply let the place go. Everyone deserves a second chance…and this new owner hasn’t even gotten a first chance from you.

    Badly run businesses don’t survive, even in the busiest of climes. Don’t bad mouth that which hasn’t even happened yet. I hope they’re very successful…and offer a better product than what has been there in the past.

  • CB December 25, 2010 (6:43 am)

    A Garlic Jim’s driver CRASHED his car into our garage door. His car had no breaks, and he had no insurance. He gave false information and nobody at the store or corporate headquarters would return our calls/emails.

    When I read the posts and stories above, I am not surprised. I don’t care who the new owners are, I will never set foot in Garlic Jim’s ever… and I make a point to tell friends our horror story in hopes they never patronize this establishment.

  • Danielle December 25, 2010 (7:30 am)

    Hmmmmm. After reading everything, I feel like the honorable thing for the new owners to do, would be to guarantee all employees who were just let go, a job- provided they were “insurable”. Rather than treating them as random applicants, just guarantee them a job. What’s the probblem? If its then discovered that they are unreliable, or dishonest or something, let em go! Washington is an at-will state. But I have a problem with the new owners knowing the abrupt nature and timing of these folks losing their jobs but not helping to rectify the situation. I’ll not be going there until I hear that they deserve my business. There’s enough great pizza in WS without them!

  • Karen Lyons December 25, 2010 (7:31 am)

    If it is at all possible, could you change the name of the restaurant? When I first moved here I saw Garlic Jim’s and thought what an unimaginative name for a pizza place. I don’t buy pizza for the garlic and the place looked greasy and poorly kept.

  • RobM December 25, 2010 (9:35 am)

    I hope the new owners will stop the old owner(s) practice of leaving unsolicited flyers on doors of homes that specifically request not to have them. I have signs on my store saying no flyers, but Garlic Jim kept on putting them their after numerous complaints to the owner (even the city call them, and they still refused to stop). Going out of town a lot, this is a sure sign for thieves that someone is gone…

  • onceachef December 25, 2010 (11:09 am)

    For all of you who had bad experiences, whether as a customer or an employee…you’ve got to be fair and give the new owners a chance. Just because some “yahoo” delivery guy ran into a garage doesn’t make the new owners bad people…it sounds like they care about their current place of business and their employees. Why should they guarantee anyone a job (Danielle)? Do you have any idea of the cost of hiring, training and then possibly firing employees? Obviously, you don’t. Maybe some of the former employees are responsible for the lack of quality and professionalism that seemed to doom the original business. Try communicating your thoughts (frustrations, whatever) with the new owners IN PERSON and not through blogs and such…it’ll make all the difference in the world if you communicate directly.

  • alki_2008 December 25, 2010 (11:50 am)

    Please note that the owners bought a franchise, they don’t own the entire Garlic Jim’s company. Corporate usually owns the advertising strategy, not the individual franchise owners.

  • WorldCitizen December 25, 2010 (12:12 pm)

    Bummer for the old employees. Some of them may have even been great workers. It’s tempting to re-hire them to make things right so-to-speak, but I tell you what…If I was the new owner I would steer clear of any of them unless they were a dynamite interview. Keeping a culture of the kind that ran a business into the ground (no matter who propagated said culture) is a tough way to begin fresh.

    It’s a shame they were let go so close to the holidays. Dick move by the former owners.

  • coffee December 25, 2010 (12:20 pm)

    I believe the issue of insurable employees is because all employees will be required to deliver pizzas, therefore the owners insurance will have to make sure that the applicant can be insured. Never been to the place, I have my fav pizza spot in West Seattle, and I don’t stray, probably because I get royal treatment and the food is top notch and value priced.

  • wolfbain December 25, 2010 (12:35 pm)

    Danielle is right mr. onceachef, how can you blame stuff that happened there on the workers.And you need to learn that cost has many aspects, not just moneywise.You have the nerve to ask why the new owners should gaurantee any of the workers a job? People like you are the reason I work union. So workers are treated fair! The restaurant biz is word of mouth and the best thing the new owner can do for that place would be to gaurantee the former employees their jobs. It`s obvious to me Danielle has the qualitees of a decent manager who could be respected by a crew

  • Keith December 25, 2010 (4:58 pm)

    I used to see a car parked behind Garlic Jim’s with a license plate frame that read “Catch Me If You Can, Piggy.” Wonder if that person will be re-applying for a driver position or moving on to NASCAR.

  • NotMe December 25, 2010 (7:14 pm)

    I think Danielle is onto something here… at least tell the employees they are guaranteed a chance, but they have to prove insurance (in the case of the drivers/delivery folks). I do, however, disagree with Danielle’s statement about having plenty of good pizza in West Seattle. That, my dear neighbor, is simply not true.
    As for all of you that are so freaked out about “corporate” places – I have one thing to tell you: every single business in and near the Junction is “corporate.” Oh, and the first owners of that Garlic Jim’s? Yeah, they have lived and played in West Seattle for years. If you went into their business, you supported West Seattle, too.
    I also think going into a Starbucks is a good thing. Why? Because that business’ corporate office is right here in good ole Seattle. Many people that live in West Seattle work there. I happen to work in a “corporate” company on the east side and I get paid enough to visit and spend money in a number of business in our Junction and Admiral (where I live) as much as I can. This avoiding anything “corporate” sometimes misdirected, and is getting old. I am old and tired of hearing it. When Walmart moves in, then you can make your noise all you want to keep out a company that will take our money to Arkansas. I will be the old fart holding the picket sign that reads “No thanks, WalGreed.”
    Thanks for listening. :-)

  • Paul December 25, 2010 (10:29 pm)

    I tried Garlic Jim’s when they first opened, I was thrown off by the “Deliviery Charge” The pizza was forgetable and the salad was pretty much just lettuce and cheese..rather eat a tombstone

  • wally December 26, 2010 (10:29 am)

    NotMe’s statement of “every single business in and near the Junction is “corporate.” is foolish and ignorant which leaves little credibility to the rest of the comments. I live in the said Alaska Junction and i love it! -some examples are hwere I get my hair cut, bring my dry cleaning, buy my pastries and breads, pick up a cup of coffee for my wife, and many more. Be careful with the widly exaggerated comments NotMe. Makes you look uniformed.

  • NotMe December 26, 2010 (12:09 pm)

    Wally, every single of these businesses has a corporation. It is how they are licensed. You will usually find an actual piece of paper that proves what I said on the walls inside each of the businesses. You really need to check into that. Try not to differentiate my comment as making me “uninformed” next time. Sure, I am playing a bit on the word “corporation” but essentially, they are designed the same.

  • former GJ employee December 26, 2010 (4:41 pm)

    Just to clarify some things…

    First off, no one crashed into a garage. If someone did they never told anyone and it was the fault of that driver and no one else. The new owners and even the old owners cannot be blamed for it. Second, the last owner, Bob Houston Enterprises, was a terrible owner. All of the employees had multiple years experience working in the industry. When they would inform the owner of what he was doing wrong and how to fix it, he would ignore them and do what he thought was right. All of the employees were top notch workers and their attitude reflect that of the owner. If the new owner had the previous staff the store would run like it did the first year it was open. It is a very unfortunate and unfair situation that the whole staff was fired. Like Jeff told WSB, two other employees put in applications and they probably have a good chance of getting their old jobs back. Maybe not all that could have be done was done to get their jobs back, but I encourage all the old employees to apply. From the sound of it, the new owners know what they are doing and the store will be running smoothly in no time.

  • (required) December 26, 2010 (8:23 pm)

    You know, if you do a “Yelp” search for the best pizza in West Seattle, by price and quality West Seattle’s Red Star on 35th seems to be blowing the competition away. And also, there’s yet another new place opening — what, it’s going to be called something like Venti Uno or Venti Due, or something like that, right? So this Garlic Jim, what, with its bad karma of a fast succession of owners, its chain feel, and its history of canning employees right before Christmas, it sounds like the new owners will have a tough road ahead. Real tough.

  • 4thGenWestSide December 26, 2010 (8:29 pm)

    In that Garlic Jim’s is a franchise, and they will use the same recipes, I don’t see this business being around for very long. The pizza has pretty much always been nothing more than a yawn compared to the countless other options we have here in West Seattle.

    I know of no one that would eat it if given other options which is probably the main reason it has never worked. We have tried it through most if not all of the ownerships, always asking ourselves why we even gave it another try. Maybe a different type of restaurant (non franchise) would be a good fit when Garlic Jim’s runs out of people willing to give it a go with their (yawn) pizza.

  • lobesaurus December 26, 2010 (10:38 pm)

    I deliver pizzas (insured) to satisfied customers, and work with happy employees at the Garlic Jim’s in Edmonds. Congratulations Jeff and Page!

  • chicago transplant December 27, 2010 (4:54 pm)

    I would argue that we have NO quality pizza in west seattle…and I’ve hit them all…compared to Chicago or NYC. That being said, good luck to the new owners, I hope they do well.

  • Jim December 27, 2010 (7:36 pm)

    Longtime West Seattle resident here. We often order from both Pagliacci and Zeek’s and occasionally from Garlic Jims.. No, they’re not as good as New York pizza, but theyre (pagliacci and zeeks) as good as Seattle gets for pizza. To be fair, garlic Jims chicken wings are very good.

    As for the driver who crashed into a customer’s garage, it was ridiiculous of the former employee to say it didn’t happen and completely lame for the company to ignore the customers calls. While the delivery drivers are most likely independent contractors, the company had some moral responsibility there — they hired the driver — and he was representing their company when he crashed into the customer’s garage. Most responsible companies that cared about the community would have stepped up but obviously the former owners didn’t care as the didn’t bother to give th business much of a shot.

  • Joe December 28, 2010 (10:24 pm)

    Proletariat in White Center crushes all other Pizza on this side of town. Garlic Jim’s pizza hasn’t impressed me at all the handful of times I had it. I like Pagliacci’s, I like Abbondanza, but Proletariat is much, much better. Just an opinion. Also, in the restaurant business, I think if you buy a joint that is turnkey, you need to be careful about keeping the people on who were part of a toxic culture, whether or not the owner was responsible. You have to break the old patterns held by the old staff. If the place was dirty, the staff allowed that to happen, the manager(s), everybody. The new owners have a right to right the ship their way in order to provide better product and service. It is their money on the line, after all. Who do you people think you are demanding that the new owners guarantee jobs to the old employees? They owe nothing to the old emloyees, as harsh as it sounds, it’s reality. Do you really think they are doing the community or themselves any favors by trying to operate their newly acquired business under new standards and procedures with the same staff that watched it run into the ground? Nonsense.

  • wolfbain December 30, 2010 (6:08 pm)

    Wow, this person mentioned a “toxic culture” at a little hole in the wall joint with a handful of employees. LMAO. You might be right about the new owner oweing the crew nothing that was fired just days before christmas but I don`t think that way, whew! If they wanted me for a patron than they owed it to me and anybody else who knows what holiday spirit really is. I also believe the workers deserved a second chance and I believe the new owner owed it to them.The first thing the new owner has done ( telling the crew to re-apply) is very,very wrong!SHAME ON HIM!!! Reality doesn`t have to be harsh Joe, reality can be kind. Try it sometime. Everything you said not only sounded harsh, to me it sounded uncaring and mean but I understand it is your reality and not mine.They should change the name of the business to Scrooges Pizza.

  • JackieB December 31, 2010 (1:11 am)

    @CB: did you call the police about the delivery guy who drove into your garage?? Years ago I gave false information (when I was young and stupid) and the police called my house. Once my parents got wind of it, I took responsibility.
    Anyway — had you contacted the police, they would’ve investigated at Garlic Jim’s, and I bet they would’ve returned THEIR phone calls and answered their questions.

    Also, there IS good pizza in West Seattle, and it’s at Red Star. They deliver to all parts of West Seattle and for a damn good price and fast delivery time.

Sorry, comment time is over.