Project: Contemporary Seattle Restaurant – Sawyer
Architects: Graham Baba Architects
Project Team: Francesco Borghesi, Principal / Ross Eckert, Project manager
Location: Ballard, Seattle, Washington
Photo Credits: Andrew Pogue
Text and photos: Courtesy of Graham Baba Architects
This contemporary Seattle restaurant is helmed by James Beard Award semi-finalist chef Mitch Mayers. The restaurant is located in a building originally constructed as a sawmill (thus the origin of the restaurant’s name) in the 1920s in the Ballard neighborhood.
Chef Mitch Mayers acquired the second floor of a 1927 building that began life as a sawmill. The goal was to remake the large, 4,700-square-foot space into a contemporary restaurant in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood.
The design emphasizes the patron’s dining experience. The bar, which had previously dominated the space, was relocated in order to let the dining area take center stage. Relocating the bar also opened up a large bank of west-facing industrial-style windows, further enhancing the customer experience by providing ample daylight and territorial views. Cozy large-scale built-in booths and banquettes beneath the windows, create intimacy, and a sense that each seat is considered the ‘best seat’ in the house.
Mindful of budget, existing surfaces were refreshed or revived when possible. For example, existing fir floors and the exposed wood ceiling were simply cleaned and re-finished to provide an underlying warmth, and to showcase their natural, hard-won patina.
To visually simplify the space, walls are painted off-white or white washed, resulting in a bright, contemporary aesthetic. The bar features a solid ash top with locally-crafted cement tiles on the base. With the customer’s experience paramount, lighting fixture selection was an extremely important decision.
Custom fixtures were designed by local artists to ensure intimacy amongst the patrons, and L-shaped powder coated fixtures illuminate each booth and table to provide warm, ambient light.
The kitchen was opened up to the dining room to reinforce the connection between food preparation and the dining experience. A four season patio is accessed via roll-up garage-style doors, bringing capacity to 120 patrons. Along with receiving updated appliances and lighting, a fifteen-foot stainless steel chef’s island was added so patrons can view the preparation of their meal.