Boom Boom Room opening on Tacoma’s 6th Ave. Here’s a look inside
It’s been five years in the making, but Tacoma’s Boom Boom Room finally will open.
If all goes as planned, the new cocktail lounge and restaurant on Sixth Avenue debuts sometime this weekend(ish). Watch the lounge’s social media for updates. UPDATE: The cocktail lounge and restaurant opened on Friday, April 2, 2021. Get in there!
Enter the long, narrow, exquisitely decorated lounge and look up at the ceiling.
The sparkly starburst chandelier, dropping down over a tall-back curved booth next to the front door, looks straight out of the 1960s.
That’s because it is. Owner Robert Stocker fished that chandelier out of the home he grew up in. Now it’s proudly displayed in The Boom Boom Room.
That chandelier is a tangible link to that house Stocker grew up in, but the entire space is modeled after his childhood home.
His parents built their ode to mid century modern architecture in the 1960s in Edgewood.
Growing up in that stylish home, Stocker recalled, “People used to knock on the door to ask to see inside.”
The ‘60s-era house was designed by Stocker’s uncle, architect John Kinkella. How fitting that Stocker teamed up with his cousin Dan Kinkella to design the interior of Boom Boom Room.
Stocker and Kinkella both followed the footsteps of their fathers. Kinkella also is an architect and like his father, Stocker became an electrician. Here’s a fun piece of Tacoma art lore: Stocker and Kinkella previously operated the Robert-Daniel Gallery in Tacoma more than a decade ago.
Stocker also is the creator of Shake Shake Shake, a burger restaurant in the Stadium neighborhood he and a business partner at the time, Steve Naccarato, opened in 2013. Kinkella also helped on that project with design work. Naccarato exited his work with restaurants in 2018 and now Stocker operates Shake Shake Shake, as well as Beefy’s Burgers, the next-door burger neighbor to the Boom Boom Room.
This has got to be one of the longest bars in the making in Tacoma. I first wrote about this lounge in 2015. No kidding. It took five years to get the place open. Why? Because the entire lounge was built by hand and Stocker’s not a guy known for comprising his vision.
CREATING THE BOOM BOOM ROOM
“I am dying to stand in the corner over there and watch people walk in and see their reaction,” said Stocker last weekend as he gave a tour. “When people walking into Shake (his burger restaurant) after we opened, they used to stand at the door and just look in, shocked.”
The electric orange and aqua blue interior of Shake Shake Shake provides a visual treat with reclaimed artifacts connected to big pieces of Tacoma’s history. The seats were repurposed from the old Elks bowling alley that was torn down.
Stocker was going for the same kind of dramatic color palette at the Boom Boom Room. While Shake is all about aqua and orange, Boom Boom Room’s theme is saturated red and gold.
Stocker’s vision is heavily weighted in the mid century decor of 1960s-era Vegas. There’s a little bit of the Miami spirit in there, too. The name is an homage to the yesteryear lounge of the same name from the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
Those walnut cabinets that frame the bar? Stocker hand built those to resemble the cabinets in his childhood home in Edgewood. He also hand built the booths spanning the length of the space. Striking red-and-gold tiles span the length of the left-hand wall. Stocker hand made those tiles using molds he purchased from a Kiev design company. Stocker hand poured plaster into each mold, sanded them, painted them and affixed them to the wall. Opposite those ornate red molds, the walnut bar also glows red.
The combination of that red glow and the boxed drop ceilings feels like all those ‘60s-era bars Tacoma once had an abundance of. Way back then, liquor rules required visual separation between dining areas and bars, which is why bars of that era around here tended to be dark and cave-like. Nobody could see inside and people liked it that way.
The boxed drop ceilings over the booths and the bar create a space that’s much more intimate than today’s bars, which are built with hard surfaces and a soaring ceiling. That’s a recipe for an obnoxiously loud dining experience.
Stocker recalls an early sound test of the Boom Boom Room years ago when he was still building it out. It was loud. Very loud. He added black cork paneling along the wall and ceiling, which when combined with the boxed ceiling, deadened the din. Boxing in the overhead space also made the space feel more intimate.
The ceiling is painted black because Stocker said he hates “busy” ceilings, and especially ceilings that are overly lit. Lighting in Boom Boom Room is drop pendants mostly, with the ability to raise or lower the intensity, as needed.
BARWARE AND BOOZE
Stocker has been collecting barware for years. “I’ve bought up everything I could find on Etsy and Ebay,” he said. The display behind the bar holds mid-century everything: Vintage coupe and rocks glasses, mid-century shot glass sets, decanters that look straight out of a Vegas club, fancy champagne chillers, metal swizzle sticks and so much more.
He’ll save some of the rare vintage barware for diners who buy from the lock-and-key booze cabinet that holds high-end bottles such as Louis XIII de Rémy Martin Cognac and Nolet’s Reserve Dry Gin, which his bar staff will use to make a premium $65 martini. (That bottle of Nolet’s retails for $400, FYI).
There will be a few other higher-priced cocktails, such as the Manhattan made with 18-year Whistle Pig. Alongside those few big spender cocktails will be shots of premium tequila, such as Clase Azul Reposado, Cincoro Reposado and Don Julio 1942. Those will come with premium prices of $25 to $40 a shot.
But Boom Boom Room is not – I repeat, not – a lounge exclusively devoted to premium spirits with big pricetags.
The specialty cocktail menu is solidly in line with the surrounding bars with cocktails listed mostly around $10 to $13.
As you’d guess with a mid-century concept, the cocktails are gussied up Prohibition-era classics. There’s a little bit of tableside theater thrown in for good measure.
Fly Me To the Moon is a showy tableside delight made with Sazerac Rye, Fernet Branca, Angostura bitters, Green Chartreuse and a sparkly tableside finish with a cinnamon stick flamed over the top of the drink. There’s showmanship in the smoked old fashioned, too. That cocktail is served with a waft of applewood smoke billowing from the rocks glass. That one’s made with Eagle Rare, honey syrup and bitters ($13).
The Paper Plane, a modern take on the Prohibition-era Last Word, is made with Buffalo Trace, Amaro Nonino, Aperol and fresh squeezed lemon ($11). That drink comes accessorized with a hand-folded plane that unfurls to a hidden message (be sure to take a pic and tag me if you post it).
Presentation is key here. The Empress cocktail, named after the color-changing gin, arrives a pretty lavender hue, a frothy drink shaken up with coconut cream, lavender bitters and lemon juice ($12). A steamy drink, something like a tequila hot toddy, is served with lemon, honey and jasmine tea pearl that unfurls as the drink steeps ($13). That one is served with a glass of cider that acts as a timer of sorts. “When you’re done drinking the cider, the cocktail is ready to drink,” a barkeep said as I watched the new staff test cocktail recipes.
In all, there are 11 classic cocktails, plus a sizable list of white and red wines and a lengthy list of sparkling wines. There’s also beer and cider on tap, plus bottles and cans.
Served alongside those cocktails will be a farflung menu that includes tapas for sharing. There will be a classic bar burger made with pork belly and pimento cheese. There will be a steak, a pork chop, tacos and regional American favorites such as chicken and waffles. Did I mention the lumpia? The menu is all over the place, but built around one common thread: food built to pair well with cocktails.
A note about seating while restaurants and bars are at 50 percent during Phase 3: Due to the long, narrow space and a lack of barriers between the low-slung booths, Stocker will only be able to seat at alternating tables and the big booths bookending the bar. The bar itself, per current pandemic regulations, will have no seating. When bar seating returns, about a half dozen can fit at that bar.
BOOM BOOM ROOM
Where: 3016 Sixth Ave., Tacoma