Skylark Café/Club open house tomorrow: Meet the new owners

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The new owners of Skylark Café and Club in North Delridge are finally ready for their closeup.

They weren’t quite ready to talk back when we reported Skylark’s founders had sold it to them. But now they’ve been running Skylark for five weeks – they took over on September 1st and reopened it on September 3rd – and would like to invite you to get to know them, so, tomorrow, they invite you to an open house to get to know the new Skylark – which so far isn’t that much different from the old one, just continuing to evolve.

We sat down with new proprietors Matt Larson and Janna Richards to talk about what’s not changing, what is, and their hopes for the food-and-music venue:

First, a little bit about Matt and Janna. They are West Seattleites. Matt moved here in the mid-’00s; Janna’s roots go back farther, as her grandparents live here and she spent childhood summers with them. Both have backgrounds in art – particularly Janna, a visual artist who will be curating the Skylark walls as an in-house gallery, with the spotlight on stars of the local art world. There’s already work up:

The open house on Thursday coincides with their six-year-old daughter’s birthday – so it’ll be a party for her, too, with kids’ activities for those who choose to bring the whole family, as well as “cake for all,” says Matt.

He has a background in bartending/bar management – along with photography – and says, “It’s been a longterm dream of mine to have a place with cool art, good food, good drink, the whole package.”

His hope is that Skylark can become “an extension of people’s living rooms .. come out and relax.”

They intend to keep it as a music venue, and have a new booker, Mackenzie Mercer (a musician herself, with The Young Evils).

But they “can’t bank on music and drinks” alone to stay afloat, so they are ratcheting up the menu, with a new one to debut in late October/early November, right about the time they reopen Skylark for lunch – a daypart it stopped serving three years ago, before the area workforce expanded at West Seattle Corporate Center (“the flag building”) nearby, among other factors. Matt says he can’t wait till they start serving lunch; they plan to focus on soups, salads, sandwiches for lunch, a little lighter than the forthcoming dinner menu. Matt says he loves to cook and is having fun working with Skylark’s new chef. He’s been talking with neighbors, including Fire Station 36 a bit north, next to the bridge, to see what they want. “It’ll be an evolving menu, and seasonal.” (But don’t worry, some favorites like tater tots won’t be going away, they promise.) Skylark will continue with brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, including handcrafted specialties such as chicken-fried steaks.

Another change – in addition to the projection screen on the stage, they’ve added a TV, something Skylark did not have before. But it will be off when there’s live music, Matt assures music fans (and bands): “The heart of this place always has been music.” While many other venues have live music now, this is the only “true” venue, he says, while being quick to explain he’s not knocking any of the others – it’s the combination of sound system, sight lines, and more.

In fact, Skylark’s decor will tilt more in the music direction. We hadn’t been inside since the ownership change, and while talking to Matt and Janna on Tuesday, first thing we noticed was a ruby-red-ringed drum set on a high ledge by the Skylark door. A little subtler is the vinyl trim along the top of the walls – that’s vinyl, as in records. There’s new paint and new furnishings, as well. “Freshened it up without totally overhauling,” is how they put it.

And some new features. They intend to set aside Thursdays as benefit nights – every Thursday, a different cause, from a fundraiser to maybe even promoting a band’s crowdfunding initiative. The idea is, one dollar from every drink would be donated to the cause of the night; even if you didn’t know about it, and found out when you showed up for dinner/drinks/music, it’s an easy way to do some good.

The all-ages open-microphone event on the last Sunday of every month will become a fixture. And there’s room for younger performers before the 9 pm cutoff during the weekly open-microphone events, too. Performers are able to get a full recording of their show – a cheaper alternative to studio time.

They hope to have a sizable helping of all-ages features, so that “kids can come and play and watch music while parents have a drink.” Janna says, “I wish I’d had more opportunities like that” in childhood.

So for starters, Thursday of this week is that open house we mentioned. It’ll be happy hour all night, starting when Skylark opens at 4 pm. They’ll offer some samples from the forthcoming new menu. Their daughter’s birthday will be celebrated around 5:30 pm. And they’ll have music starting around 6 pm.

Haven’t been to Skylark? 3803 Delridge Way SW, right across from the onramp to the high bridge.

P.S. If you have “a cause” that might qualify for the Thursday night benefits, you’re welcome to e-mail to inquire.

16 Replies to "Skylark Café/Club open house tomorrow: Meet the new owners"

  • Kay October 9, 2013 (7:38 pm)

    Does this mean Under-21’s can come to the Skylark before 7 now – if they’re having a birthday there, I mean? I hope I hope…

    • WSB October 9, 2013 (7:41 pm)

      Yes, and it’s been that way for a long time. We’ve dined there with our son many a time. – TR

  • coffee October 9, 2013 (9:23 pm)

    LOVE what they have done to the place! And so happy they are in the area. Lunch is also a hugely welcomed addition. Food is also amazing!

  • JB October 9, 2013 (9:41 pm)

    I remember going to a wack-ass warehouse party there back in 98 or 99 with Bob Whittaker. Seattle has such layered history. It’s nice to see people embracing that.

  • EmmaPeel October 9, 2013 (10:07 pm)

    I wonder if Bobby Whittaker remembers that!!!??? Love him!!!

  • Jonnie Gilman October 10, 2013 (2:58 am)

    Are Crosby and April still working there?

  • Sharon October 10, 2013 (4:06 am)

    Will the steak salad still be on the menu? One of my fav reasons for dining at the Skylark.

  • Neighbor Lady October 10, 2013 (8:39 am)

    I hate the new t.v. There are plenty of bars with them if I wanted that. I loved that the Skylark didn’t. Who watches t.v. in a bar? Besides the employees? People stare at it because it’s there, which sucks the life from the room. Did I mention that I HATE it?
    Everyone has their gadgets and laptops if they want to see a glowing screen. I hope they get rid of it.

  • Lindsey October 10, 2013 (9:50 am)

    Neighbor Lady, I hate the tv too. The lack of TV was a major draw for me. Does anybody know where there’s a tv-less bar now?

  • Lindsey October 10, 2013 (9:53 am)

    That said, I do wish them the best and will check out the open house tonight. I hope they haven’t changed the recipe for their bloody marys, because they were awesome!

    • WSB October 10, 2013 (10:14 am)

      West 5 in The Junction remains resolutely TV-free.

  • Jack October 10, 2013 (10:28 am)

    The old rule for kids was until 9? Hope that is still the same. Glad the menu is getting updated!

  • k2 October 10, 2013 (11:26 am)

    Lindsey, check Stellar in Georgetown…tv-less since inception.

  • Jackson October 10, 2013 (12:58 pm)

    All-ages until 9 every day, according to their website. I understand the feelings about the TV, but they seem to be trying to straddle the line – it goes dark for any performances, and the whole rear room is completely out of the TV sight line. It gives them the ability to show local sports – a bar staple and something I personally like – and doesn’t seem overly intrusive to me.

  • Trevor October 10, 2013 (2:26 pm)

    Great write-up, thanks WSB for the info. Actually, Skylark should be thanking you since I probably never would have noticed the ownership change and learned about what a cool place this sounds like. It’s been a long time since we stuck our heads in the door of the Skylark. We’ve lived in West Seattle since 1996 and now with kids it’s great to have a happy hour option with the family!

  • Alise October 10, 2013 (7:43 pm)

    Can’t wait to check the place out. Going for brunch on Sunday!!

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