For all those people — this writer included — who said “I’ll believe it when I see it” about the opening of The Defiant Goldfish, believe it.
The tavern next to Point Defiance Park opened July 20.
It might as well be called The Little Tavern That Could because of the myriad obstacles that delayed the opening two years.
Among the issues were an oil tank explosion that set co-owner Adam Dopps on fire, and a house fire at his personal residence.
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Dopps and co-owner Corey Webb tanked on permits.
They ran out of money and couldn’t make payroll in December for employees they hired the first time they thought they were opening. An investor gave them the funds to pay employees. However, two checks mailed to employees were returned. “The other two are thumbtacked to the bulletin board in the office. At some point they will be turned over to the state, but I am hoping they end up coming in and getting them now that we are open. Everyone has been paid except for those two,” said Dopps.
Time and again, they took to social media asking for money. And time and again, locals came to their rescue. The initial investors are called the “325 Club.” In all, the owners raised more than $100,000.
When the tavern did open, it was exactly as promised: A neighborhood joint with a tap list of local beers and a casual menu of pizza, sandwiches, salads and simple pub food. Here’s a quick first-bite report. It’s this newspaper’s policy to avoid criticism of food and service in a restaurant’s first month.
Concept: Uncomplicated neighborhood tavern. The space formerly held the similarly named Goldfish Tavern (it had different owners). It’s not a destination restaurant, but it’s another on-the-way choice for visitors to Ruston, Point Defiance Park or the ferry to Vashon Island.
Atmosphere: Part thrift store, frat house and vintage oddities. It’s a funky looking tavern. Most of it is functional, but some of it, such as one odd-height table, are not. This restaurant is Frankensteined from all kinds of parts and pieces that were found or given to Dopps and Webb.
The finds: An old mattress spring attached to the ceiling serves as a wine bottle holder. An old freezer door was used as a table in the dining room. “We bought a commercial garage door that came from one of the fire houses, and it ended up being too big. So we tore it apart and just kept it laying around, using pieces for whatever came up,” said Dopps.
Seating: A roll-up garage door spills to a large outdoor patio. Inside, there’s plenty of high-top and low-top seating.
The menu: Pub basic, nothing unexpected. Starters such as nachos, wings and hummus plate ($7.50-$8.95); four salads ($8.95-$11.95); seven sandwiches, including French dip, meatball, chicken-bacon-ranch, turkey havarti and a veggie wrap ($8.95-$9.95); and 11 pizzas, including meatball, barbecue chicken, an all-meat, Hawaiian, taco and three vegetarian-friendly pies ($10.95-$13.50).
The tap list: Almost all South Sound locals on my visit with taps from 7 Seas Brewing, Harmon Brewing Co., Pacific Brewing and Malting, Puyallup River Brewing, Silver City Brewery, Top Rung Brewing, Vashon Brewing Co. and Wingman Brewers.
The Defiant Goldfish
Where: 5310 N. Pearl St., Tacoma; 253-327-1776, defiantgoldfish.com.