TNT Diner

Adriatic Grill isn’t reopening, but you can eat some of its food next year. Here’s where

Chef Bill Trudnowski with mushroom soup at Adriatic Grill.
Chef Bill Trudnowski with mushroom soup at Adriatic Grill. Staff file, 2014

Just about every week since its closure in February, a reader has sent a message asking, “When is Adriatic Grill reopening?”

It won’t.

But its former chef and co-owner, Bill Trudnowski, will be cooking some of his greatest hits again in someplace unexpected.

Construction is about to get started on Tacoma Firs Golf Center at 4504 S. Tyler St. The center will close this fall and reopen sometime next spring as Gamerz Golf, an entertainment emporium focused on golfing and dining. Trudnowski will be the chef.

The $10 million facility will be equipped with heated golf bays, electronic golfing, a sports bar, 45-seat dining room and event spaces. The center’s current mini-golf course and putting green will stay put. It’s aimed at golfers of every skill level.

Food and beverages will be shuttled to diners no matter if they’re in the dining room, the sports bar or one of the heated practice bays. Service will be tableside.

How did Trudnowski end up there?

A diner from Adriatic Grill who also was a patron of Tacoma Firs connected Trudnowski with Mike Givens, owner of Tacoma Firs, when the diner heard Givens was looking for a chef for his new entertainment center.

Trudnowski said he initially was skeptical and didn’t understand the idea of golf as entertainment.

“I got this information, and I called Mike back and I hung up and I said, ‘Well that’s not going to work. I’m not going to work at a golf range,’” Trudnowski said. “Then we had another meeting, and it became a little more clear.”

Trudnowski had been lamenting that he didn’t want to accrue more debt opening another restaurant.

“I wasn’t in a position to go into debt to rebirth it and then this opportunity presented itself. It was perfect,” he said.

A road trip to check out the Oregon location of Topgolf, which also has its eye on opening in Tacoma, cemented Trudnowski’s commitment.

Trudnowski said every golfer he encountered there was eating or drinking something.

“It was an amazing deal,” he said. “There were couples, teenagers, families there, and 25-year-olds having beer and appetizers and playing golf. Everybody was there on a Wednesday during the day. It was amazing.”

“Bill went up and down every level of the driving range and said every table has food except for one, and they were probably waiting for delivery,” said Givens.

That’s the idea at Gamerz Golf, too.

“Everything’s going to lead with food,” said Colleen Hall Barta, who heads corporate development and investor relations. “This is going to be a top-notch restaurant with Bill’s food highlighted.”

His menu will reflect golf’s global reach.

“Golf is pretty much everywhere. South America, Central America, Northern Europe, Ireland and Scotland, the Middle East and Asia,” said Trudnowski.

He described upscale food with minimal fussiness, built to appeal to broad palates.

“We’ll have traditional appetizers, from salads to sandwiches and burgers. We will have a pizza oven in there,” he said.

He plans for shareable appetizer towers with themes from Moroccan to Hawaiian.

What about his Adriatic Grill menu?

“We’re going to have some Adriatic Grill items on there,” he said. “There will be some traditional entrees but not necessarily my traditional big-plate philosophy. We want to keep the portions smaller and the pricing good. We don’t want to go over $20.”

The menu will fluctuate with the seasons, and he plans for themed specialty menus. Expect a cheeky nod or two to golf culture in the cuisine and cocktails, which he described as higher-end, specialty drinks.

There also will be beer and a robust wine-by-the-glass program. Tacoma’s Harmon Brewing Co. has committed to brewing two specialty beers for the golf center.

Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270, @tntdiner

Gamerz Golf

Where: 4504 S. Tyler St.

Info: tacomafirsgolfcenter.uschedule.com

Opening: 2019 at the current site of Tacoma Firs Golf Center

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