TNT Diner

Goldfish hopeful to open soon in Tacoma

Adam Dopps is shown in April at the old Goldfish Tavern, which he and business partner Corey Webb are turning into The Defiant Goldfish, a restaurant and bar near the entrance to Point Defiance Park.
Adam Dopps is shown in April at the old Goldfish Tavern, which he and business partner Corey Webb are turning into The Defiant Goldfish, a restaurant and bar near the entrance to Point Defiance Park. phaley@thenewstribune.com

Adam Dopps and Corey Webb are getting used to people saying “we’ll believe it when we see it” about the opening of their new restaurant and bar in the old Goldfish Tavern adjacent to Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park.

But, really, they’re opening. In December, if all goes as planned for the Defiant Goldfish, the new name for the old haunt.

They have really good excuses for six months of delays.

Such as catching on fire.

That was back in June, when the co-owners were working on gas tanks the duo say were signed off as “safe” to remove. Dopps had just started cutting into the tank when he heard that “poossshh” noise a gas barbecue grill makes when it starts up.

That terrible sound was followed by a ball of flame that enveloped Dopps. Webb was in the hole with Dopps, but managed to scramble out, reach his hand down and yank Dopps from the fire pit.

“We start to run, and he starts yelling, ‘Stop, drop and roll!’ There’s a pile of dirt and he’s throwing dirt on me and I kick off my shoe and my other shoe is engulfed. I’m afraid to use my other foot because it’s bare. I’m at the point where I’m not going to die, but I was pretty sure there was a chance I was going to die,” recalled Dopps in a phone interview.

A nearby cooler came to the rescue. They grabbed the beverages inside it, opened them, and dumped the contents all over him to put out the fire.

Once the flames were out, they took off running. They watched from across the street as thick, black smoke funneled into the sky. They were unsure of what would be waiting for them inside, but surprisingly, the building suffered little damage. Soot cleanup was the biggest setback.

Dopps, however, is still recovering from his burns and the associated medical costs.

The duo met while working in corporate management for Domino’s Pizza. Both have held other jobs, but this is their first time running their own restaurant and bar. Webb most recently was director of operations at Seattle’s Jet City Pizza. With that background, it’s no surprise that the Defiant Goldfish will open with a pizza menu. Sandwiches and salads also will be served. They’ll have espresso and pastry service in the mornings.

The building’s interior will look very little like its predecessor, which closed in 2012 after a nearly 80-year run. In its early days, it was a gas station. In its later days, the Goldfish was known as a tavern with an aquarium behind the bar.

The front door of the Defiant Goldfish has shifted to the park side of the building, and a new patio flanks the Pearl Street side. The footprint has shifted, with an open kitchen and bar on one side and family-friendly seating on the other. A private seating area also has been added.

One specialty will be the tap list featuring 10 beers. They said one tap will always be dedicated to Rainier, but the other nine will feature beers brewed within a 20-mile radius of the bar.

Defiant Goldfish

Where: 5310 N. Pearl, Tacoma.

Information: defiantgoldfish.com.

Opening: A December opening is planned.

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