The Roadhouse Bar and Grill has closed. Here’s where it’s going next
The Roadhouse Bar and Grill has closed its South Hill location.
It served its final baskets of pressure fried chicken and jo-jo potatoes last week.
However, it’s not the end of the road for the neighborhood watering hole that was founded in 1969.
The Roadhouse is on the move. Its new home will be 2 miles south on Meridian Avenue East and if all goes as planned, it’ll be operating again in the next month. UPDATE: The restaurant posted on its Facebook page that its target date for reopening is October, 11, 2021. Read more here.
Here’s what’s happening.
For more than 50 years, the Roadhouse has sat at the corner of 155th and Meridian Avenue East, serving a menu of neighborhood pub fare.
Anajo Chaffee and her mom Betty Berge bought the Roadhouse 21 years ago.
It’s the kind of place to go to watch a game, drink a cold beer, play some pull-tabs and shoot pool or darts. It’s not fancy, but it is supremely comfortable. Burgers are a popular menu choice and I appreciate they come with a steak knife inserted right in the center for easy splitting. The Roadhouse first landed on my radar many years ago when a reader from the Boise area was searching for breaded steak fingers (if you know, you know). I found a version of the fried, breaded steak bites at Roadhouse and the reader was eternally grateful.
In fried chicken circles, the Roadhouse is also known as a fine destination for pressure fried chicken and jo-jo potatoes (put Roadhouse on your broasted chicken tour along with Summit Pub, Loose Wheel, Hans’s Place, 2121 Tavern, Terry’s Office Tavern and Anglea’s).
“My blood, sweat and tears are in this building,” said Chaffee, who pronounces her name “Anna-Joe.” She added, “One of the best things you can do as a business owner is to own your own dirt.”
She, her mom and her step-father Ray Berge bought the building and land when they purchased the restaurant and it proved to be an excellent investment for the family. Family members Tommy Chaffee and Julie Akers also assist with running the business.
SELLING THE ROADHOUSE PROPERTY
When the pandemic hit, the family grew concerned for what the future for restaurants might look like. They listed the property for sale last year. It sold immediately. Cheffee said she has mixed feelings about selling the property, but that it was the right decision at that particular moment in 2020 when so much uncertainty swirled for restaurants (and still does). She has regrets now, but as she notes: It’s time to move forward with the next chapter. The sale closed a little over a week ago.
Chaffee and her family have been in the neighborhood bar business for decades. The family operated the Tall Timbers in Federal Way. They ran The Main Street in downtown Puyallup in the old Sea Galley location before taking on the Roadhouse.
“It’s been a great location for us the last 21 years. It’s been an amazing ride. I’ve been in Puyallup doing business for 29 years. This is where my family is, here in Puyallup,” said Chaffee.
When it came time to find a new location, they knew they didn’t want to travel far. She felt a sense of obligation to employees and longtime regulars to keep the bar going. “I decided to open a new location because I have a wonderful staff and I wanted them to have jobs. I wanted to keep seeing the same people I’ve spent the last 20 years with,” she said.
THE NEW HOME FOR THE ROADHOUSE
She found a new home at the Pour Me Bistro space, formerly where Shaken operated. It’s about half the space that the Roadhouse has – with seating for about 70 as opposed to the Roadhouse’s 160 or so seats.
Duplicating the Roadhouse’s sense-of-place that has the feel of a long-lived neighborhood joint will prove challenging to carve into the newer space, but Chaffee said she and her crew are working on building comfortable digs with plenty of screens for game viewing. They’ll also still have pull-tabs, cold beer, cocktails and a subscription to the NFL package. In fact, Chaffee said she’s sunk about $20,000 into the infrastructure for screens for games (cables, sound system, flat screens, etc.).
The menu will merge some favorites from the Pour Me menu with the longtime favorites of the Roadhouse.
What about the pressure-fried chicken? Of course that will still be on the menu, said Chaffee. In fact, she’s invested a bunch of money into making sure the broasted chicken will remain a fan favorite. She said she invested in a new chicken fryer a few years back and it never got the chicken as good as the old one did. So she’s kicking the old one to the curb.
“I bought a Henny-Penny,” said Chaffee of her newest purchase. Those legendary chicken pressure fryers are an industry standard for pressure-fried chicken. The hallmarks of a pressure-fried chicken are a crispy exterior and juicy, steamy-hot interior. She expects the Henny-Penny will deliver that and then some. “The Henny Penny is an amazing chicken fryer. You can cook chicken in it until the thing dies. They last forever. They make the best fried chicken,” she said.
Follow the restaurant’s social media for a reopening announcement. Hopefully, it’ll be a little later this month. UPDATE: The restaurant posted on its Facebook page that its target date for reopening is October, 11, 2021. Read more here.
THE ROADHOUSE BAR AND GRILL
Old location: 15518 Meridian Ave. E., Puyallup
New location: 18810 Meridian Ave. E., Puyallup