TNT Diner

A new restaurant is coming to McKinley this spring. Put it on your family date night list

Dusty’s Hideaway is built into a house in the McKinley neighborhood.
Dusty’s Hideaway is built into a house in the McKinley neighborhood.

The Zodiac Supper Club is a grownup’s paradise.

It’s a date-night escape with a swanky dining room decked out in funky vintage charm nestled into Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood.

The steak-and-cocktail menu is like a relic from the old supper club days. It’s also a restaurant where kids are not allowed. When its owners — Dana Claar Verellen and her husband Dave Verellen — started considering the idea for a second restaurant in Tacoma, they wanted to do something just as interesting but with a concept that would welcome kids. It also would need to appeal to their parents.

If all goes as planned, their restaurant and bar, Dusty’s Hideaway, will open this spring in a converted house in the McKinley neighborhood. There will be a separate bar for adults only and the potential for occasional live music/event nights, but amenities also are being built for kids. Right now, workers are digging up the back yard to build a play area.

“This is an idea we’ve had for many years, but it definitely required a pretty specific space for it,” said Dana Claar Verellen, who is a parent who also happens to like good food and cocktails.

“One of the main things that we needed to complete the vision is that we needed an outdoor area that’s kid friendly. We had looked at a few places. Most of the time it was like, we can convert this parking area into a yard, but it was a lot of converting something that wasn’t really supposed to be a yard.”

Then they stumbled on a converted house in the McKinley neighborhood that was zoned for business, was for lease and had a very large back yard.

“We were leaving the Top (of Tacoma, the bar) one day, and I saw this house. It was it,” she said.

The space will have a front porch for seating, and there also will be a deck at the back of the building, which will be in close proximity to the kid friendly area.

Their goal is to keep the feel of an old home.

“There’s no escaping the fact that it’s a house, obviously, because — it’s a house. I did a lot of road tripping with my grandparents as a kid. We went through the whole country. It reminds me of roadhouse style places you stop at … that had great food. It’s a little bit of nostalgia in that way for me as well,” she said.

The food will be something like modernized American diner food. She described a solid tuna melt, made with a flavor-zapped tuna salad, and a patty melt, too.

She also will use the house burger at Zodiac Supper Club — made with a hand-formed patty — as the model for the burger they’ll have on the Dusty’s Hideaway menu.

She also plans for menu items suitable to the late morning when they open through the evening, such as a fried egg sandwich and a breakfast-themed salad with bacon, eggs and avocado.

“It’ll be American food done really well,” she said.

The menu will rotate regular specials throughout the week, such as smoked meats specials, prime rib nights, an occasional fish fry and others. There will be a cocktail menu, as well. Because many parents and other diners prefer to drink alcohol in moderation, the menu will feature a category of low-alcohol cocktails, a growing trend across the country for those who want a sophisticated cocktail but also want it to come with a small amount of alcohol.

She described menu pricing in the mid-range with most menu items priced $10 to $15, with a few items above and below that.

Inside, there will be seating for 40, with 30 more diners on the back deck. The decor will be kid friendly with a palette of nature-themed colors with a bit of vibrancy.

The space, she said, comes with big windows with lots of natural light.

Expect an opening later this spring.

Dusty’s Hideaway

Where: 723 E. 34TH St., Tacoma

Opening: Spring 2019

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Sue Kidd has been The News Tribune’s restaurant critic since 2008. She dines anonymously and The News Tribune pays for all meals. Sue is a South Sound native. She writes about new restaurants, openings and closures and knows where to find the best tacos in every neighborhood.