West Seattle family to open Brass Knuckle Bistro in White Center – but first, a ‘garage sale’

(UPDATED THURSDAY NIGHT with garage-sale dates/times, Saturday and Sunday 10-4)

By Linda Ball
Reporting for West Seattle Blog & White Center Now

Case Justham says he doesn’t sleep very well, so he stays up and reads cookbooks all night. His mom Linda Justham says her son looks at the science of food, down to the molecular properties of a dish. Case is quick to point out that he’s not a scientist, but he likes to try non-traditional cooking methods.

Case (photo at right), a self-taught chef, is presently the sous chef and butcher at The Swinery in West Seattle. With mom Linda, sister Piper Carscadden, brother Drew Justham, and wife Amy Justham, they are partnering to open the family’s first restaurant, Brass Knuckle Bistro in White Center. Case will be the chef, Carscadden will work the front end and social media and Linda will do the books, eventually turning them over to Carscadden. The others will be mostly silent partners, although Drew has extensive front-end experience and will probably be present in the first few weeks.

The entire family lives in West Seattle but they chose what was until three months ago the location of 3.14 Bakery at 9602 16th SW, just south of Roxbury, for the bistro (and are having a “garage sale” there later this week Saturday and Sunday – more on that below).

(WSB/WCN photo, August 20th)

It’s close to home for Case, who resides in the Westwood neighborhood and worked in White Center in the early 2000s; Linda said it’s a place where they were able to find affordable rent. They came close to opening a restaurant on Bainbridge Island, where they all lived at one time, but decided against it when they all moved into Seattle. Case worked at Bene Pizza on Bainbridge before coming to The Swinery, where he’s been for three and one-half years. He appreciates the freedom he was given to be creative at The Swinery. “I wear a lot of hats there,” Case said.

So, where did the name Brass Knuckle Bistro come from? “White Center still has a tough-guy characteristic,” Case said. “It evolved from knuckle sandwich to brass knuckle to Brass Knuckle Bistro.”

It will be a casual restaurant, geared toward lunch and early dinner. He found it frustrating on Bainbridge to find a good Mexican or Thai restaurant so he wants to do things differently, for example, putting his own spin on Caribbean pulled pork. He said his Philly is an “anchor sandwich” which he’s perfected at The Swinery, but the Philly he has planned for White Center will “knock people’s socks off.”

Brass Knuckle Bistro will also offer salads and vegetarian and vegan sandwiches. Instead of gluten-free sandwiches, he’s planning dishes that would be presented like sandwich fillings atop, for example, ribs, cole slaw, or gourmet fries. He said the reason is that he hasn’t found gluten-free bread that he finds suitable. Case said he plans a small fixed menu and a large rotating cast of specials, which he said are where he shines. “I like the idea of a secret menu.”

Keeping the price points affordable is very important to the partners – they want everyone to be able to afford to eat there. They have applied for a beer and wine permit, and have a great deal of build-out to do, so opening isn’t anticipated until sometime in November. Expecting a rush in the beginning days, Case plans to call on some of his industry pals to jump in; then, he will gauge what sort of permanent help he will need.

This coming weekend (UPDATE), Saturday and Sunday, September 2-3, the Justhams will be having a farewell-to-3.14 sale, like a garage sale, to get rid of fixtures and items they don’t need – espresso machines, a pastry cabinet, and so forth – from 10 a.m. -4 p.m. each day, so stop by if any of that appeals to you. They want the space empty by early next week, so the remodel can begin in earnest.

The Justhams do have a website started up, though not complete, at brassknucklebistro.com. Tentative hours when they open will be 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, closed Mondays.

33 Replies to "West Seattle family to open Brass Knuckle Bistro in White Center - but first, a 'garage sale'"

  • Heather August 30, 2017 (11:04 am)

    Sounds awesome! Love the Swinery! I’m excited to have more places to eat/drink in White Center!

  • Guy in the Phillies Hat August 30, 2017 (11:43 am)

    What kind of bread will be used on the Cheese Steak? It’s really all about the bread, you kind of can’t screw up the inside. If you can’t get the real rolls (Amoroso brand), banh mi rolls from the Hung Long Market Bakery are pretty close to the same thing if they’re not overcooked.

    Also, no one who claims to make a good cheese steak calls it a “Philly”. Show respect and name it correctly please. “Cheese Steak Sandwich”. “Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich” is also tolerable, but indicative of chain restaurant bush league hacks.

    Go Birds.

    Also, congrats on the restaurant. It’s hard opening your own business, don’t mean to bust your chops out the gate even though that’s clearly what I’m doing ;). I respect what you’re doing, plus you’re joining a growing and increasingly diverse restaurant community in that neighborhood. Don’t forget the vegetarians.

    • WSB August 30, 2017 (12:11 pm)

      The word “Philly” is our reporter’s word. If it were a direct quote from the chef, it would be in quotes in the story. So I don’t know that he used that term. And regarding “don’t forget the vegetarians,” the story does specifically mention they’ll have vegetarian and vegan options – TR

      • Guy in the Phillies Hat August 30, 2017 (1:40 pm)

        Thanks for the clarification. Lesson learned. Can’t wait to see the new place.

    • Brian August 30, 2017 (12:25 pm)

      I hope you’re ok after pushing your glasses up your nose with that much force.

    • Taysia August 30, 2017 (5:58 pm)

      Your comment was so passive aggressive it really wasn’t necessary! This bistro hasn’t even opened yet and your critical paragraphs make you come off as a jerk. I read this article super happy and upbeat, and then I scrolled down to see your pessimistic comment. Some things are just better left unsaid,  I think you need a lesson on that! 

  • RCS August 30, 2017 (11:53 am)

    Not a fan of the name – at all. Sounds like it glamorizes the ghetto concept of brass knuckles. But best of wishes with the sandwich shop. Glad to see a restaurant is going in that space. 

    • Revilo August 31, 2017 (8:35 am)

      Not a fan of the name either.

    • SueY September 3, 2017 (10:41 am)

      No correlation between the NAME of a restaurant and the TASTE of the food.  How ’bout you give them a chance first?

  • Jim P. August 30, 2017 (12:14 pm)

    I wish them well and shall surely be dropping in (after the first day madness, I dislike large crowds and it always take a new restaurant a week or two to get into the proper groove.)  I adore a good philly sandwich and if they have something to knock my socks off, I shall be delighted.

    Not surprised 3.14 went away…I went there.  Once.  Did not like the selection in the cases which was maybe two or three not overly resplendent pies, the place looked dirty and run down and, despite only one other customer, I was neither acknowledged or even spoken to so after about five minutes I left, never to return.

    • datamuse August 31, 2017 (8:47 am)

      I liked 3.14’s pies but could never figure out when they were open. It’s too bad because nothing has really filled Shoo-fly’s niche (A La Mode is good but sometimes you just want a basic fruit pie, you know?).

  • Luke August 30, 2017 (12:21 pm)

    Yay, vegan sandwiches!

  • DRW August 30, 2017 (12:37 pm)

    Yes! I cant wait to try it out! Good luck! More long days and sleepless nights before opening.

  • Adam August 30, 2017 (12:43 pm)

    I’m very excited to try this place!  I’ll definitely go for the Philly!  Get a life “guy in the phillies hat.”

  • Paul August 30, 2017 (12:54 pm)

    The Italian Beef Sandwiches I used to get in Chicago would beat a Philly even without using brass knuckles. Ummm!

  • Holly August 30, 2017 (1:31 pm)

    Double YAY Vegan Sandwiches!

  • Miles August 30, 2017 (1:43 pm)

    the name is not cool at all……way too much testosterone out there these days…..

  • Saul August 30, 2017 (2:26 pm)

    16th is getting better and hipstered out, however some of the Locker Room’s patrons still frighten me. If I bring my own brass knuckles do I get a discount?

    • PangolinPie August 30, 2017 (4:11 pm)

      Me too, Saul; my prediction is that the hipsters will edge out the drunk old dudes before too long, though. I hope so, anyway!

  • Strike em out Kinney August 30, 2017 (3:15 pm)

    Sounds good, can’t wait to try it.  By the way, something is going on in the spot Panda Express was supposed to occupy at Westwood Village.  Are they stil planning to open up shop there?

  • Melody August 30, 2017 (3:28 pm)

    First can I say the name is “Fantastic” on all levels Secondly we are STOKED to try your new creations! Woo Hoo congratulations.

  • Tbone August 30, 2017 (3:50 pm)

    Awesome!  I had the pleasure of working with Case at the Swinery – He is top notch creative, as well as  passionate about making amazing food.  I can’t wait!  So happy for you and your family,  Case!  


    • Case August 31, 2017 (3:56 pm)

      Thanks T, I think you’ll appreciate the artistic direction I’m going in with this place, in addition to the food.

  • Case August 30, 2017 (4:41 pm)

    Just to clarify, I developed a completely different cheese steak sandwich for BKB than the one I created at the Swinery; that sandwich was designed to take advantage of the bountiful trim created from squaring off whole prime rib and short loin roasts for the butcher case, where as my new one is more about creating my own ideal sandwich from scratch.  Regardless, it’s not going to be called a Philly on the menu, I’ve got my own offbeat sensibilities about naming dishes (imagine Quentin Tarantino owning a diner and you’re in the ballpark), but I won’t spoil the surprise quite yet.

    • Phillies Hat Guy Again August 30, 2017 (7:01 pm)

      Great to hear, and glad you have a sense of humor. You’ll fit in well with the other awesome places on the street. Good luck getting set up.

      Are you going to have beer taps?

      • Case August 31, 2017 (3:59 pm)

        Cans and bottles to start, then we’ll see from there.  I’m not sure how far down the White Center beer arms race rabbit hole I want to go yet, so that decision is some distance off at the moment.

        • Sammies September 3, 2017 (7:43 am)

          For what it’s worth, my friends and I live nearby and frequent as many WC businesses as we can.  We pick our place based on the ambiance and food, then drink whatever’s available.  I won’t claim to represent everyone here, but if your food is good and you’re not jerks, almost any beer will do (except Corona).

    • PangolinPie August 31, 2017 (9:38 am)

      I like this place already. We’ll be there when you open, Case. Ready for some of that awesome meat!

  • HPResident August 30, 2017 (4:55 pm)

    I LOVE the name! 

  • nachobeaver August 30, 2017 (5:47 pm)

    love the name and cant wait to try it..love me sum good sammys

  • Billy Bathgate August 31, 2017 (3:08 pm)

    Great name and the food sounds amazing!  I’ll be there for opening day.

  • Amy September 1, 2017 (8:22 am)

    I appreciate the intent to provide reasonably priced sandwiches and vegetarian options! It seems like all the newly opened places (ahem, beer star & company) are a bit over priced for white center standards, thanks for trying to meet people where they are and bring something that old timers and new gentrify-ers will like (sounds like it will be like that, at least).  

  • Linda Ball September 1, 2017 (9:03 am)

    To be clear, Case did call the sandwich a “Philly.”

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