FOLLOWUP: See inside Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery, readying to open in July


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Shelby Varden sees California Avenue SW through the West Seattle Junction as having some of the flavor of Disneyland’s Main Street USA.

By the time the West Seattle Grand Parade comes marching and rolling down that street next month, he expects to have Shelby’s Bistro and Ice Creamery open right at the end of the route, on the northeast corner of California and Edmunds.

We brought you first word of the plan back in early April, but it was a quick update, after numerous readers spotted signs of activity at the 4752 California SW site, in what had been the abruptly closed Westside Public House, following the abruptly closed Terrible Beauty, among other predecessors. When we briefly caught up with Varden in the early stage of the remodel, he invited us to check back when his establishment was closer to opening – now set for July 19th – and we recently did just that.


Varden (above right) and recently hired chef Justin Reed (above left) gave us a tour of the space – now about 75 percent of the way to completion – and a preview of what they’re planning:

If you’ve been through The Junction lately, you’ve likely noticed the exterior paint, a sort of butterscotch, and the awning that was installed this past week (top photo). Varden says signage – including neon – is on the way too.

What you can’t see from walking, riding, or driving by, is the interior transformation, which is well on its way. You could call the color lemon yellow, or maybe more appropriately, French-vanilla yellow. The north wall holds a new mural (covered in plastic as a work in progress while we were there):


Further into the space, part of the south wall holds diamonds of colors that are the mostly pastel palette for Shelby’s. Overhead, brushed-nickel lighting fixtures were starting to take shape when we visited (they’ll sport different bulbs when everything’s done, we’re told).

If you have memories of previous establishments, this has almost zero echoes, except the placement of the walls (see “before” photos on this page of the Shelby’s website).

What will happen within those walls? Talking with Varden and Reed, we got a preview of that too.

What was the bar on the south side of the space, in its previous incarnations, is where the “ice-cream maestros” will be on view, making sundaes along the front two-thirds of the bar – no seating – while the back one-third will be the “service bar” for beer, wine, and other beverages – no hard liquor.


Multiple spaces will comprise Shelby’s, including a place to pick up takeout orders at the host stand in front (eventually they’ll have online ordering that you can even schedule well in advance), some corner seating to the right of the door where you can enjoy ice cream – the only part of Shelby’s that won’t be full service with wait staff. Booths and tables around the rest of the space will be in a variety of configurations for parties large and small, some combinable if you’re, for example, bringing a group – toward the back, there’s a set-aside area that could accommodate up to 40. Off the north side, a private area will be available for business meetings as well as parties, and businesses will especially appreciate the video monitor – though you will NOT find video screens in the rest of Shelby’s, Varden says.

Overall, the restaurant will seat up to 140, and Varden pointed out places where the server stations will be strategically located to “take care of guests’ needs” in a manner more thorough than what they’ve heard about previously uses of the space.

Meantime, the “family” aspect is intended to be much more than lip service. Besides including a kids’ menu, Shelby’s also will offer “activity sheets” to keep them busy at the table, and those sheets will change quarterly. And you can expect a “free sundae on your birthday” offer – with purchase of a meal.

What about the food? Reed calls it “standard (bistro) fare with a culinary touch” – and it will include “great pizza” as well as paninis, burgers, and brunch. “Some edgy” offerings will grace the latter. Vegan and vegetarian options are promised. Pastas, salads, “farm-to-table driven.” Varden adds, “A core menu – with some specials.” Back to the ice cream: a dozen or so sundaes, some sharable. In the spirit of Farrell’s, is mentioned, not the first time. They hadn’t settled on their ice cream provider when we talked, but hoped to offer at least nine flavors.

Both men have eclectic backgrounds, from the hospitality industry to, in Varden’s case, HR too. Varden’s past employers include Schwartz Brothers Restaurants and Starbucks, and his “Main Street” observation mentioned earlier has its roots in “Behind the Magic” training he says he received at Walt Disney World.

They hope to have happy employees as well as guests – “if our employees are happy, our guests will be too,” Varden explained. “We’ve (both) worked for some of the best … we want to give back.” Toward that goal, Reed hopes the kitchen staff will learn “how to do (things) the right way,” because he plans to be scratch-driven, and to employ “French culinary style” techniques. “We’re going to be an incubator of great chefs.”

Our tour included even-more intricate detail about the seating arrangements and some hints, such as “the restrooms are going to have cool finishes you won’t see anywhere else.” The restroom plans include, going back to the family theme, a changing table in the men’s room, too. Varden’s even looking ahead to year’s end, with holiday decorations planned.

First – with the July 19th opening date already announced, training will start right after the 4th of July. If you’re interested in working there but haven’t applied yet, hurry.

P.S. The current concept for hours is expected to be along the lines of 11 am-9 pm weekdays (closed Mondays), 9 am-10 pm weekends.

57 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: See inside Shelby's Bistro and Ice Creamery, readying to open in July"

  • Gene June 26, 2016 (12:10 pm)

    Welcome Shelbys– very excited to try this well thought out – fun – inclusive-  restaurant – if they can’t make it on that corner- no one can!

  • Lux June 26, 2016 (12:29 pm)

    hopefully they have legit homemade ice cream and something made from a packaged  mix.

  • Lux June 26, 2016 (12:31 pm)

    not something from a mix. edit

  • Diane June 26, 2016 (1:17 pm)

    I’m very excited to see a full-fledged family friendly restaurant, including changing tables in both the women’s and the men’s restrooms

  • RS June 26, 2016 (1:18 pm)

    What is it with West Seattle? We have a perfectly good source for ice cream in the Junction, then two more business decide to sell ice cream within a half block of the first. We have an excellent BBQ joint down the hill, and another one opens across the street. You want burgers?  Pizza? Mexican? There are numerous options for each of those in the Junction. Now we’ll have an ice cream shop with burgers and pizza! Is it any wonder so many are wondering when Kizuki and Dumplings of Fury will open? We are starving for variety!

    • East Coast Cynic June 26, 2016 (2:38 pm)

      No quality dedicated Chinese Food place as of yet at the least.  

    • RayWest June 27, 2016 (7:23 am)

      Moochie, you have made a very astute observation. I had always wondered why this often occurred until I learned in one of my geography classes  that a specific-type business will deliberately open up  where there is already a similarly successful store/restaurant because they know there is a ready-made customer base established there. That was why in the past, wherever there was a Starbucks, a Seattle’s Best Coffee would open up across the street. The same with a pizza parlor or a teriyaki joint, and so on. 

    • Bored in WS June 28, 2016 (10:08 am)

      Variety has you starving for Kikuzi and Dumplings of Fury? You mean the 5 Asian restaurants on California between Edmunds and Oregon (plus pho immediately south and teriyaki a block east) aren’t enough? It absolutely blows my mind that with all this new dining finally opening up, all we’re getting is more of the same. More coffee, more Mexican, more Asian. And yet another prime spot in the Junction that won’t be open late nights? Color me underwhelmed.

    • JanS July 16, 2016 (5:25 pm)

      RS…Variety…we all like that, and food with that ice cream…that’s even better…it’s apples and oranges. Husky’s isn’t the only ice creamery in the world…and I’m not dissing Huskies…I love them

      If you don’t want to give Shelby’s your business, simply don’t. More for us :)

  • wsres June 26, 2016 (2:14 pm)

    sounds like a great family restaraunt is in the making! reminds me of o’farrells in tacoma and seatac.

  • wsres June 26, 2016 (2:16 pm)

    i just tead his bio & see why Farrells came to my mind! and big scoops! two of my childhood memories too! my kids will like this place! i think it will be a big hit!

    • WSB June 26, 2016 (2:37 pm)

      Definitely Farrell’s inspired, they mentioned. I wasn’t sure how common Farrell’s was here – I knew it from Southern California in the late sixties. No plastic animals (remember “The Zoo”?), Shelby promised!

      • MsD June 26, 2016 (10:31 pm)

        I grew up way down south (of the U.S. not Tacoma) and Farrell’s at the local mall was our treat place in the 1970s.  My parents would drag us out still whining about not getting enough candy from the shop up front after eating the ice cream.  I remember the rock sugar thingies on toothpicks.  I’m pretty sure that place put a lot of dentists’ kids through college.

  • Smitty June 26, 2016 (2:36 pm)

    Go for it, RS.  It’s called a “market”, and the market will decide what succeeds and what fails.  If you think there is a need for variety then by all means take a risk, get a loan and go for it.  Otherwise, STHU.

    • newnative June 27, 2016 (8:18 am)

      Smitty, this post should be copy and pasted for every news story about restaurants that breaks on this blog EVER.  

      Somebody opens a uniquely styled ice cream parlor and people start complaining, demanding, and arguing over it and every other restaurant in town.  

  • JanS June 26, 2016 (3:35 pm)

    just last week, people were screaming that Whisky West wasn’t “kid friendly”…this should make up for it. Sounds like this guy has a leg up on something that finally may be a success in that spot. Let’s not  knock it until after it’s open, please. 

    For those kvetching here…we have a lot of unique places here in West Seattle…Blackboard Bistro,  Ephesus, the new place that just opened in the Admiral District, offering sushi plus, a great steakhouse, in Jak’s, Maono, New Vietnamese place in Admiral,  A French restaurant  down next to Cactus…just get out and avail yourself of what they have to offer. The peninsula, it seems, cannot be everything to everyone… and there is a downtown full of places too. Even Beacon Hill..Bar del Corso, Travelers Thali House (vegetarian Indian food)…and it ain’t far…really…oh, and have you been to Georgetown lately? Any of the new places in SODO? Oh, yeah…and we have some excellent burger and pizza joints, too :D

    • Gorillita June 27, 2016 (12:08 pm)

      If there’s one thing that will keep me from a restaurant or drive me away once I’m there, it’s too many kids.  I don’t drink, but I much rather prefer someplace like Whiskey West to a place that attracts kids.  I had a restaurateur tell me recently that he’s rather have my big (service) dog in his restaurant than 95% of the kids who come in.  So, as someone pointed out, we all have different opinions, needs and wants for restaurants.  I’d have liked to see a Middle Eastern restaurant or bagel shop (especially now that both are closed in the Admiral District).

      • WSB June 27, 2016 (12:51 pm)

        Have you been to Itto’s?

  • Pat June 26, 2016 (4:04 pm)

    Sounds like a good family oriented alternative. Let’s face it, no one is going to supplant Huskie’s for their homemade ice cream but that should not stop someone from bringing in some friendly competition  and I do remember Farrell’s (pig trough anyone?) there is always room for more quality.

    I do though agree, a quality Chinese restaurant would add to the collection.

  • Pat June 26, 2016 (4:10 pm)

    Just to let you know (younguns listen up) there were at least 2 Farrell’s in the area, one in the Southcenter Mall near the Sears store (before total remodel) and one on Aurora about 125th N. if my memory hasn’t failed me. They were fun for all.

  • Beckyjo June 26, 2016 (4:42 pm)

    No offense to Husky Deli but…. That place is a dump, It needs a remodel and some good ole fashion cleaning.


    • raybro June 26, 2016 (9:44 pm)

      Agreed.  It’s sad to see how run down and dumpy Husky Deli has become. 

  • H June 26, 2016 (4:58 pm)

    Sounds like a pretty versatile place offering a little something for everyone. I’m kinda excited as my last big ice cream splurge was on delicious gallon of ice cream from Husky Deli. You can see the ingredients on the gallon containers and I was saddened to see that corn syrup is a major ingredient. So yes, please offer real ice cream.

  • miws June 26, 2016 (5:06 pm)

    There was also a Farrell’s in Northgate Mall.


  • Janet June 26, 2016 (5:36 pm)

    i remember going to a Farrell’s in Eugene Oregon and it was so much fun back in the was in a  neighborhood setting and i remember the bannannannnaaa splits. They were so good! It was really cheery and just a  good place to go.     I’m old enough to remember the Godfathers Pizza that was there in the new spot and it was great. They had mini personal pizzas that i couldn’t wait to devour and they had a nice family environment.  Best of luck to the new restaurant!

  • Michael Waldo June 26, 2016 (6:29 pm)

    I went on my first date in high school to Farrell’s on N 125th and Aurora. 

  • Junction_Mom! June 26, 2016 (6:34 pm)

    I’ve walked past a couple of time during construction and have peeked in the door.  Looks very bright and festive!  Looking forward to visiting once open!!  Happy to have a new family restaurant and not another bar.

  • ET June 26, 2016 (7:16 pm)

    Excited to try it! I need a new go-to place to take my kids since Angelina’s closed. I have lots of happy memories of the Farrell’s at the Tacoma Mall – including a Hot Fudge Volcano for my birthday party in 7th grade. :)

  • Gina June 26, 2016 (7:16 pm)

    The big birthday drum at Farrell’s, Southcenter. And the great big line waiting to be seated. Photos of various celebrities on the walls, but I only remember J.P. and Gertrude, signed and in color! And all the knick knacks for sale, Styrofoam boater hats, back scratchers, magic tricks…

  • DoubleD June 26, 2016 (7:25 pm)

    West Seattle can support more than one ice cream place. And maybe this new place will force Husky Deli to raise their game. I rarely choose Husky anymore due to the poor, inattentive service and dirty, dingy interior. It’s rarely well-stocked and overall doesn’t project a sense of food safety, which is say is pretty vital for a business selling food.

  • Junctionite June 26, 2016 (7:33 pm)

    Would be so great if they had soft serve ice crea,! 

    • Gorillita June 27, 2016 (12:03 pm)

      Soft serve ice cream contains a high percentage of wood pulp, which cannot be digested by humans (it’s a cheap filler with no nutritional value).  Wood pulp is listed on the ingredients list as cellulose.  I used to drive a tour to a wood pulp plant, and I had to tell them the uses for wood pulp, including soft serve ice cream, stockings and pantyhose.

  • jissy June 26, 2016 (8:04 pm)

    Not that anyone asked for my opinion but I sure wish they would have chosen a different exterior color especially since they had 2 sides to work with….. I just don’t care for it but of course it won’t keep me from trying the place.  

  • I. Scream June 26, 2016 (8:24 pm)

    The Farrell’s was at N 130th St and Aurora Ave N, behind a car dealership. I went to a birthday party there. I remember the Farrell’s at Southcenter too.

    I hope Shelby’s will instill fond memories to a new generation of ice cream lovers. Welcome!

  • dlmp June 26, 2016 (8:24 pm)

    I agree: Husky’s needs a deep cleaning. A makeover would be nice, but I’d be satisfied with a deep cleaning. My skin crawls when I go in there now, which makes me sad because I love the food, the family who runs it, and the tradition.

  • Paul June 26, 2016 (9:06 pm)

    We went to the Farrell’s in magnolia in the early 70’s

  • Moochie June 27, 2016 (12:49 am)

    There was never a Farrel’s in Magnolia that I can remember. We went there with the Seafair Clowns after the University Kiddie Parade in the day. 

  • GenesseeJohn June 27, 2016 (7:24 am)

    The thing is the minivan family market will drive out of their way to some place with parking, just like the suburban Farrell’s that everyone is referencing.  So many types of restaurants could have capitalized on the wood work and stone work that the Terrible Beauty installed, instead break out the paint sprayers.  Zero appeal to this customer.  I give it six months.

    • Bored in WS June 28, 2016 (10:17 am)

      Agreed – Terrible Beauty was a great concept and a beautiful (if dimly lit) interior. The failure of the business was not the concept, but on ownership that overextended itself trying to expand too far, too fast, then panicked and made a bunch of terrible managerial decisions that drove customers away (alienating staff, closing early, cutting all entertainment).

      The early days of that place proved that ever since Rocksport closed, the Junction has been starving for a good neighborhood pub that offers more to do late night than join the Talaricos meat market or enter one of the depressing dungeons at Maharaja, Corner Pocket, or Poggie.

    • pjmanley June 29, 2016 (12:14 pm)

      Reasonable over/under based on history.

      But will they serve Merlot?

      • newnative June 29, 2016 (1:40 pm)

        If they do, I won’t drink it!

  • Villagegreen June 27, 2016 (9:05 am)

    “West Seattle Junction as having some of the flavor of Disneyland’s Main Street USA.”

    I just threw up a little bit in my mouth. 

  • Arianna June 27, 2016 (9:13 am)

    It seems a bit confusing – an ice cream place with pizza, burgers and also “French culinary techniques” vegan food? …I wish them the best, but the neighborhood is filling up with thousands of young professionals; they want healthy food, not junk. Responsible parents will not take their kids to a place designed to teach them that eating junk food is so much fun…This place is not a positive thing for the neighborhood. 

    • CMT June 27, 2016 (11:14 am)

      Umm . . . I consider myself a responsible parent.  My kid is an adventurous eater and loves all fruits and veggies.  Nonetheless, we will totally be trying out Shelby’s.  Nothing wrong with a treat every now and then. 

  • WSGirl June 27, 2016 (9:31 am)

    For those asking for a new Chinese place, New Luck Toy will be open soon in the old Chopstix location… Should be outstanding!

    • BC June 27, 2016 (1:16 pm)

      If it’s anything like the previous New Luck Toy, one thing it won’t be is outstanding. The food was some kind of terrible – basically on par with the Chinese food you can get at the Safeway deli.

  • quiz June 27, 2016 (1:55 pm)

    So happy to hear that they’re putting so much thought into this venture. Hope it’s as great as it sounds!

  • Gina June 27, 2016 (3:02 pm)

    For those of us on the Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor memory trip. 

  • grrr June 27, 2016 (3:28 pm)

    I’m looking forward to the vegan ice-cream!  oh wait… that’s dairy.. uhm…


    (and yeah..the outside color..uhm….maybe carrying over the ‘brick’ color from the awning might have been a better choice)

  • Elle Nell June 27, 2016 (5:17 pm)

    Please stop sharing all the good places… With folks who complain about our wonderful little go-tos There will now be long lines everywhere.  Not ALL who do not wonder are not lost… But most are .. 

  • west seattle neighbor June 27, 2016 (5:34 pm)

    Yes, not crazy about the color either.  And why get rid of all the beautiful wood in the interior which would have given it more of a Farrell’s vibe?  Guess aesthetics wasn’t a priority.  

    What I do wonder is why they haven’t found an ice cream supplier yet?  Shouldn’t that be the priority if this is supposed to be an ice cream parlor.  However, I had assumed that because they are calling the establishment an “ice creamery” that the ice cream would be made on site.

  • Jeannie June 28, 2016 (5:43 pm)

    Shelby’s website says they’ll be using “Pacific Northwest” ice cream. So, it could be any number of good brands, like Whidbey Island Ice Cream. I don’t think the ice cream will be made on site, just provided by a PNW producer. 

    By the way, for all the people commenting about Husky Deli, has anyone contact the management about their concerns re cleanliness and so on?

  • Bruce June 29, 2016 (9:35 am)

    Hope they consider/pick Husky Deli for their ice cream provider.

  • Sue June 29, 2016 (10:00 am)

    I don’t see this place as being a direct competitor with Husky as they are entirely different atmospheres. I love Husky ice cream, but it’s the type of place where I buy a pint and go home. I don’t sit down in there, and it’s not the type of place you’d go for a date or even with a group of friends. And they don’t have sundaes and things like that.  Sometimes that’s exactly the type of place I want – good ice cream to go. But sometimes I want to sit down and have a meal and/or a fancy sundae. A place to gather with friends for dessert. Shelby’s would be the place for that.  Having one open doesn’t mean there is no longer a use for the other. They will just attract different demographics and serve different needs.

  • Kathy June 29, 2016 (5:54 pm)

    Chocolate sodas, please! Most places never heard of one. All it takes is seltzer water, chocolate syrup, chocolate ice cream and someone who knows how to put them together properly. So much more refreshing than a float with sugary soda pop. 

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