By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Drawings by kids, from planes to pigs, cover the wall by the front door at The Swinery.
Kim Leveille says drawings don’t come down until they fall down. Some are by kids who’ve become adults in her 13+ years at The Swinery: “I’ve seen entire families grow up.”
The Swinery’s a family thing for her too – she owns it with her husband Danny Rogers; her father-in-law comes in and helps out on weekends. The little shop at 3207 California SW is wall-to-wall memories, hopes, dreams.
“I’m just not ready to let it go.”
But she might have to if a new round of crowdfunding doesn’t help.
They tried it in the heart of the pandemic and West Seattle Bridge closure, an agonizing time for so many local small independent businesses. In that 2021 crowdfunding, Kim says, fans raised $17,000 in two days. But they’ve had equipment breakdowns and thefts since then, and are looking for help again to catch up. They started a new crowdfunding campaign a month ago but, Kim says, “It didn’t work.” So they’re trying again – this time, more directly declaring they’re in danger of having to close.
“We may not make it until spring,” Kim said in her email to us, which we decided to follow up on by visiting the shop. In addition to cooler/freezer repairs, they have a simple need: More staff, beyond their longtime part-time helper and a “very part-time dishwasher.” “It’s a Catch-22 – we need enough money to hire a fulltime person so the grill can do more volume.”
Right now, it’s Danny on the grill, which is an ever-increasingly important part of The Swinery’s business. Kim has worked there since just months after its original ownership opened the shop to much fanfare in 2009; she and Danny bought it in 2018. The shop was founded as “more of a butcher shop with a few things on the side.” But then one of those “things” drew extra acclaim: “Once we got ‘Best Burger in Seattle’ …” demand soared. The shop also was featured on the Food Network and the Travel Network. “Now the grill is much more important.” Tons of takeout/delivery orders, since The Swinery’s only seating is a small courtyard by the grill.
Along with all that grilling, their other offerings are labor-intensive too – “since we do everything in-house.” The meat case is full of sausages, chops, smoked meats, and more.
Popular items include ribs and beef bacon. For Thanksgiving, they smoke turkeys; for Christmas, ribeye roasts. No nitrites. No allergens. “I just want everyone to be able to eat,” says Kim.
She’s hopeful this time they’ll get the boost they need to stay in business and up the output so revenue isn’t an issue again. What if somebody would rather buy a few pounds of sausage, for example, than just give money? “Anything would help,” Kim says. That includes more patronage.