Gateway: Living

Sound of bagpipes echo through streets of downtown

While on vacation in Maui recently, Heritage Distilling founder and CEO Justin Stiefel and his wife were enjoying a nice evening on the outdoor dining patio at Fleetwood’s On Front St., an iconic restaurant and bar owned by rock and roll icon Mick Fleetwood, when a distinctive sound flooded the air.

A bagpiper was making his way through the restaurant, ultimately working his way up to the third-floor dining area.

“We through that was really cool,” Stiefel said.

The memory stuck with Stiefel on his way back to Gig Harbor. He thought it was only natural that since his family has some Irish heritage and whiskey has Scottish ties, a bagpiper was a great way to ring in the summer in Gig Harbor and give his customers — and downtown residents and visitors —something to look forward to on a Friday evening.

“(Bagpipers) make everything magical,” he said.

Every Friday throughout the summer, a local bagpiper (or bagpipers) will start at 5:30 p.m. by the city dock by Tides Tavern and make their way up Harborview Drive to Skansie Brothers Park before crossing the street and ending up in front of Heritage Distilling. The first group of bagpipers started June 5.

The bagpipers will play all kinds of music during their weekly, hour-long performance, Stiefel said.

“A lot of bagpipers can play traditional classic rock songs ... Huey Lewis, Nirvana, Soundgarden,” he said.

When the musicians finish their walk and end up in front of Heritage Distilling, they will take requests from patrons. Future plans could call for a bagpiper going out on a small boat in the harbor — really giving the notes a chance to carry across the harbor, Stiefel said.

“It’s just a really nice way for people to end the work week,” he added.