"It was the worst experience of my life," says Tim Hayes. He's seated at a worn, wooden table at Sully's Snowgoose Saloon on Phinney Ridge, recounting his decision to close Fallout Records, the now legendary record shop on Capitol Hill's East Olive Way. Hayes, who had been employed at Fallout since 1986, bought the place from previous owners Russ and Janet Battaglia in 1999. But the post-9/11 economic downswing, along with what Hayes calls the "serious gentrification of punk rock," made selling records--especially the off-the-radar kind Hayes was known to carry--a financially bleak scenario. By 2003, after countless efforts to keep the shop open, he was burnt out.
Tigertail Grand Opening With DJ Brian Everett. Tigertail, 704 N.W. 65th St., 781-TAIL, www.tigertailbar.com. No cover. 9 p.m. Fri., Nov. 16.
"It was literally two days after I locked the doors at Fallout," says Hayes. "I got the call from Carl [Carlson] saying, 'You wanna open up a bar?' and I said, 'Hey, that sounds great.'"
Their plan, which officially saw the light of day Friday, Nov. 9, was to open a Ballard bar/restaurant called Tigertail.
But that plan was hatched four years ago. Hayes needed to put the idea on the back burner in order to recover from the Fallout aftermath. He became a stay-at-home dad to his daughter Stella, now 3, and used his free time for skateboarding.
"Lots of skateboarding," he smiles proudly. "Stella got her first board when she was 1."
Hayes and Carlson were both business owners on Capitol Hill when they met. Hayes ran Fallout and Carlson owned the lowbrow art gallery Box Pop. While both would argue that there is still no money in either of their previous ventures, they have tons of faith in their new one.
"There's always money in booze!" Carlson laughs.
Tigertail, just down the street from the Tin Hat on 65th, is a far cry from the smoky, punk-rock den one might imagine Hayes opening. Forget the PBR and hot dogs. Tigertail is an upscale, pan-Asian-themed joint (think Chop Suey with a face-lift), boasting an extensive sake menu, a rice room, and a former Lark chef on staff who designed a menu influenced by organic, local, and slow-food philosophies.
Why go that route?
"[The concept] kind of came up out of necessity and discussion," explains Hayes. "We figured, 'There's nothing Asian in this neck of the woods! Let's give it a shot.' And we were thinking about what our friends like now. Plus, [El Chupacabra has] got the punk-rock thing handled in the neighborhood."
"And," Carlson adds, while eating Doritos, "we're pretty classy, goddammit."
Though the joint might be polished, they've taken the DIY route to make it all come together: There's been no help from outside investors; they've scrounged up as many used fixtures as they can (the vintage orange-striped light fixtures and back bar came from an old haunt on Aurora). Instead, they called in favors from friends and did as much as possible on their own.
"Cleaning out a deep fryer? Not an easy task," Carlson says, wincing.
In addition to the independent flavor of the place, they're each bringing along extensive collections amassed from their old businesses.
"Tim ended up with a bunch of kick-ass records, and I ended up with a bunch of kick-ass art," Carlson says. Hayes has converted a good portion of his records to an MP3 library that the bar will benefit from greatly. Its walls will also double as gallery space, which will first display Daniel Johnston works from Hayes' personal collection.
There's no question that local music fans have felt a void since Fallout's closing. If you walked in looking for a certain band, Hayes was more than willing to offer up recommendations for further listening. And though plenty are simply eager for a restaurant/bar like Tigertail to exist in Ballard, former Fallout customers will be elated at once again having access to Hayes' vast musical knowledge.
"I'd go in there, and he'd just automatically know what I'd like," says John Atkins of the Can't See. "He'd tell me what to buy, and I'd always be blown away just talking to him about music."
"Tim Hayes is single-handedly responsible for hipping me to one of my favorite records," says DJ Kerri Harrop. "Black Gladiator by Bo Diddley. [On] vinyl, of course. I've met other people in Seattle that never even heard of this record until Tim told them about it."
Sharing his knowledge is something Hayes is looking forward to as well. At Tigertail, he'll be available at the front of the house, waiting tables and tending bar, passing along his recommendations to anyone who asks.
"I miss the people—so much," says Hayes. "The people who came to that record store for so many years, that's what I miss. That's been the hardest thing."