Vashon Island: The Hardware Store Restaurant

Thing Learned…

A place can be weird, but that can be good.

Vashon Island – Was Not On Our Radar: We read an article in the Seattle Times about Vashon Island “Vashon tries to keep it real despite an influx of people and money Rising costs have made it difficult for this idyllic, rural island to keep its counterculture vibe.”

Rising costs have made it difficult for this idyllic, rural island to keep its counterculture vibe.

So we decided to visit.


It’s An Island: The only way on (or off – unless you envision your own Escape From Alcatraz swimming scenario) is by ferry. So we jumped on the ferry and took the 15-minute ride from the Southworth ferry. Upon arriving we  took the (only) road and followed it to ‘downtown.’ It was about time for lunch so we walked past the few restaurants we saw and peeked in the windows. We almost missed ‘The Hardware Store’ because the name made us think, well, umm, that it was a hardware store. My wife happened to look inside and found that there was a nice looking interior with a late breakfast being served.

Every Town Has A Slogan – Some Are Just Weird: Vashon Island is the place where people who think places like Port Townsend, WA (“We’re all here because we’re not all there”) or Bushnell, SD (“It’s Not The End of The Earth, But You Can See It From Here) or Roswell, NM (“The Aliens Aren’t the Only Reason to Visit”) aren’t down-home enough. It is a place where, if you never could, or wanted to, outgrow Haight-Ashbury, you would consider living. In order to compete with those other towns, Vashon Island has the unofficial slogan, “Keep Vashon Weird.” Visit at your own risk – enuf’ said.

A Boy Named Sue: Alright, back to the deceiving name for the restaurant. Just how did a restaurant become known as the Hardware Store? Their website reveals the answer, “Our Mission is to create a ‘great good place’ where people in our community can come together. We began our journey 12 years ago when the original Vashon Hardware Company decided to close its doors and decided to open a restaurant.”

With Apologies To Dr. Hook: To try and blend in with the locals, we did the “Walk right in, sit right down, baby let your hair hang down,” move and sat by the window. There was a small sign on the table that essentially said, “We get our stuff local.”  The Hardware Store web site states, “For as long as The Hardware Store has been in business, we’ve been committed to having fresh, locally grown produce and food products available for our menu. You can imagine how many cases of vegetables and herbs we go through here, and the availability of gorgeous, organic heirloom and unusual varieties inspire our ever-changing, seasonally designed specials and menus.”

Vision Quest: The menu goes on and on about cage-free, locally sourced food items. It made me think that this is the kind of place where the sausage donators were grown on an organic farm. When the little piglets were just old enough, they were sent, free-range style, into the local woods on their own vision quest, so they could get a name befitting them of their heritage and land. I can imagine the piglets discovering their names like ‘Josiah of Joy’ or “Annabelle the Awesome’ or ‘Missy Mellow Moonbeam.’ Of course, beyond the cage-free, locally sourced requirements, the piglets also were certified-organic, no antibiotics, no hormones added or administered, no nitrates/nitrites, pastured raised, sustainable, animal welfare approved, gluten-free, non-GMO, antibiotic-free, low-fat, sustainable waged and, as a bonus, they all voted for Bernie.

Is There A Meal Somewhere In Here? Well, yes. I had their all natural, local-sourced hamburger. I know it is hard to screw up a burger, but it really is harder to make a great burger. This was borderline great. My wife, a wanna-be BBQ aficionado, had the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich. I can attest that amount of BBQ splatter on her shirt confirms that it was awesome. She almost ordered an extra sandwich to go. Here is their full menu

Wait, There Was More: As we left, my wife ordered their in-house donuts because I like donuts. She doesn’t. Thank Gawd she ordered two because she wanted to try a bite of mine, “Just to see.” About 15 seconds later, my two donut bag was reduced to just one donut. My wife added donut shrapnel to the BBQ splatter.

About Our Waiter: Waiters and waitresses come and go, so Colin Loch may not be there when you read this. He was friendly and we also discovered he was a rapper. Well, OK, who isn’t in these times? Allow me… Please either point to your ‘tats or make your beat-box sound as you read.

Yo, yo, yo!

My crib is in the Vashon hood

The homies, they all real good

Piggies are treated real fine

They all get locally-sourced, organic wine…

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Anyways, back to Colin. He shared his rap, Kitchen Life with us – you can listen to at the link. He was rockin’ da house. He said Eminem was a role model for him. I asked him if he was going to get his own 8-Mile movie. He said, “Maybe 1/8 Mile.”

Thanks Colin.

In Conclusion: Yep, worth the stop. Good food. Nice ambiance. A real slice of  “Keep Vashon Weird.”