Neither of the Garfield High alums preparing to open The Gerald has much restaurant experience, but Kevin Rothrock's graduate degree in engineering came in handy over the six months it took the pair to transform a Ballard t-shirt shop into a food-and-beverage operation.
"I think a lot of people overlooked the space because you couldn't tell if a hood could go in there," spokesperson Jodi Smith says of the former Elephants Gerald Productions, next to an Olympic Athletic Club garage that's slated to be replaced by a four-story hotel. "We've had to jump through a lot of hoops, but Kevin was very helpful for us in terms of getting water up there."
Rothrock and Westwater, who previously handled marketing for the University of Montana foodservices, hope to open The Gerald by the end of March. A release describes the restaurant as "mid-century modern inspired."
"It's the kind of inspiration felt through everything," Smith says. "It's not so much the food in a linear way, because the food that was popular then was TV dinners, so we're not going that route."
The food will skew comfortable, with grilled cheese and mac-n-cheese on the preliminary menu. The Gerald is still "working through details" with a potential opening chef, and has not yet hired a lead bartender, although Smith says the cocktail menu will emphasize sidecars, gimlets and Singapore slings. "Think a tasty version of Mad Men," she says.
While Ballard Avenue is quickly filling up with small plate-and-cocktail joints, Smith says The Gerald will fill "the sweet spot" between King's Hardware and Volterra.
"I've had other people ask 'how are you going to be different?' and I don't think it's the right question," she says. "It really boils down to drinks, food and a welcoming environment."