Despite the coronavirus pandemic, owners of Tacoma-based Wooden City have forged ahead with their plan to open a location in the historic Genesee Block in downtown Spokane.
The restaurant opened Friday following months of renovations to the 8,000-square-foot space on the lower level of the building at 821 W. Riverside Ave.
“It’s been hard opening a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic, but it has been well-received so far,” said Abe Fox, co-owner of Wooden City. “We are fully booked reservationwise for the week and everyone seems to be loving it, so we are excited.”
Longtime Seattle restaurant industry veterans Fox and Jon Green, and business partner Eddie Gulberg opened Wooden City in downtown Tacoma in 2018. Green, who is Wooden City’s chef, previously worked at The French Laundry in Napa, California, and Gramercy Tavern in New York City.
Wooden City Spokane’s menu features burgers, wood-fired pizza, lamb bolognese, beet ravioli, country-style pork chops and small plates, such as chicken wings, peel-and-eat shrimp and smoked salmon toast, among other items.
The restaurant also offers a variety of classic and specialty cocktails, wine and eight rotating taps featuring local craft beers.
Wooden City provides an abundance of space for patrons, with a dining area, bar, mezzanine and outdoor patio seating, Fox said.
“We wanted a sidewalk patio here because on this end of town, you don’t see a lot of them,” said Fox.
Plans call for adding more tables on the patio and a private dining room area in the restaurant.
Fox and Green were drawn to Spokane’s vibrancy after visiting friends who lived in the area last year. Fox found the Genesee Block through an online property search and contacted Craven Co. founder and designated broker Mike Craven, who owns the building.
“It just so happened Abe and I connected and I just loved their concept,” Craven said. “They are great guys and they’ve done an amazing job. I admire their courage opening up during this pandemic.”
Built in 1892, the Genesee Block is among the last remaining commercial buildings originally constructed in Spokane’s downtown core after the Great Fire of 1889.
The building housed a variety of businesses, including the Fred T. Merrill Cycle Co. in 1895, Staples Candies in 1910, Barlett’s Women’s Clothing in 1915 and CE Carlson Co. Furs in 1919. It had been occupied by a pawn shop before Craven purchased it in 2015.
Craven began renovations in 2016 on the building – which is listed on Spokane’s Register of Historic Places – to transform its upper floors into four-loft style apartments with retail space on the ground level. The upper level apartments have been leased to tenants.
“I’m excited about the way it came out,” said Craven, referring to the Genesee Block. “It’s been a challenging project, but also a rewarding project, and hopefully it helps continue the improvement of downtown.”
Wooden City is open 5-9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Patrons can make reservations at woodencityspokane.com or by calling (509) 822-7194. Walk-in customers are welcome.
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