Two weeks after South Hill’s Roadrunner Bourbon and Burger House unexpectedly closed, it has reopened with a focus on cocktails and 21-and-older-only diners.
The Speakeasy Lounge opened its doors Wednesday. Manager Jason Folven, who managed Roadrunner, said the scaled-down space will be a more manageable concept.
“The Roadrunner was doing great and getting great reviews, but the numbers still weren’t quite high enough to make sense. Especially in a location that large,” said Folven of the 200-seat restaurant.
The restaurant had a difficult time convincing South Hill diners to pay $34-$69 for prime steak dinners in a strip-mall location in a suburban area. During five visits in its 11-month tenure, I found staffers who struggled with basic kitchen execution and the concept felt confusing with too broad a menu, which included burgers and pizza alongside the expensive entrees.
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Folven said an excellent new chef was hired and menu revamped in March, but ultimately that couldn’t help ease their longtime numbers problem.
What he thinks will fix the problem of such a large space is whittling its size and scope. He’s spent the past few weeks reshaping the interior to create a smaller, more intimate space focused on cocktails, a long whiskey list and simplified bar food — things that the restaurant did well in its former life.
It’s still unclear what might happen to the rest of the restaurant space. That’s still being decided.
For now, Folven will keep the menu of 250 whiskeys — everything from bourbon to scotch — in the Speakeasy Lounge. He has plans to bring in rare whiskeys and simplify the cocktail menu. Folven said the excellent Old-Fashioned and Sazerac cocktails remain on the drink menu.
He described a bar menu with fair pricing that will include a burger, street tacos and a handful of other bar items. He said he’s looking forward to returning to his specialty of talking about and crafting drinks from whiskey.
The Speakeasy Lounge
Where: 10312 120th St. E., Puyallup; 253-446-7016, facebook.com/speakeasypuyallup.
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Sundays, Wednesdays, Thursdays; 4 p.m.-midnight Fridays-Saturdays.