After almost a year and a half of preparation, the brown paper has been removed from the windows of The Thirsty Sasquatch in Uptown Village.
The soft opening was on June 6, after owner Brandon Rush took over spaces next door that formerly housed Wild Fern and Sabor Mexicano and created a craft cocktail and coffee bar, pizza parlor and arcade room, with two large patios in back.
Shutdowns due to COVID-19 gave Rush and his team extra time to realize their Sasquatch-themed vision, but construction continues on the space at 2110 Main St.
“This was a major renovation,” said Cheyenne Sutcliffe, bar manager. “Everything took longer than we thought it would.”
“We kept encountering hurdles,” general manager Sara Newton said. According to Newton, the Thirsty Sasquatch couldn’t open during the pandemic because it had a nightclub license through the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board that required them to serve food. Newton adjusted their license to a beer, spirits and wine restaurant, but that still required the business to provide food. This wasn’t possible until the pizza oven and bar were finished, and that took longer than expected.
In addition, staffing remains a hurdle.
“We still don’t have quite enough staff. That’s why we’re not open on Tuesdays,” Sutcliffe said.
Sutcliffe and Newton, who were both formerly at Amaro’s Table, said the last year has caused many people to reexamine their lives. Working a hard job with high stress all night isn’t something everyone wants to do anymore. Many of their bartending friends have moved on to other professions like car sales or selling their own artisan products.
“It’s hard switching back to late nights,” Sutcliffe said.
One of the final problems was faux greenery Rush bought to put on some of the walls. After it was installed, he discovered it didn’t meet regional fire code regulations. He had to tear it down and order a different type of material that was approved.
In addition, the desire to make the place fit the vision in their minds resulted in some extra work. “We did a lot of painting,” Newton said. “We painted and changed our minds and then changed our minds again.”
“It’s not exactly like I wanted it, but that’s my OCD,” Rush said.
On June 6, the doors finally opened and the neon lights of the indoor signs reading things like “HABITAT” and “WANNA PIZZA ME?” were illuminated. Word quickly spread and customers appeared.
“People have been looking through the paper for over a year. They walked inside like kids in a candy store,” Sutcliffe said.
In this expanded version of The Thirsty Sasquatch, there are many graffiti art-lined rooms that offer many things, but Rush has been hyper-focused on one thing for years: “The biggest thing was to have the best pizza,” he said.
To reach this goal, Rush attended pizza classes at Tony Gemignani’s International School of Pizza. He petitioned the school to send legendary pizza maker Laura Meyer to Vancouver to train their staff on how to properly make pizzas. Meyer plans on returning for a pizza takeover later in the year.
In addition, Rush bought a special stacked pizza oven that can turn out 100 pies per hour. Monster-sized New York-style pizzas, made with three-day dough, are baked at high temperatures on the rotating slabs of the oven in the large kitchen. Oversized slices sit behind a window at the counter. Whole pizzas are also available. Each of the six pizzas, from plain cheese to the combo with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, red onion and olives, has a vegan version. Refrigerators filled with bottles and cans of beer line the pizza section of the space. Several taps of beer are also available.
Next to the pizza space, there’s a room filled with old school video games like the Big Buck Reloaded shooting game, a Donkey Kong arcade game, a Pac-Man table game and an X-Men pinball machine. The last indoor room is a craft cocktail and coffee bar equipped with a brand new Sanremo espresso machine, a high-quality piece of equipment used for barista competitions, according to Rush. The craft cocktail and coffee bar is the only space where minors can’t enter. The Thirsty Sasquatch is meant to be a family-friendly place.
Two large patios sit in back. One is currently open and features a whimsical mural by Jeremy Nichols (aka PLASTICBIRDIE) with a large Sasquatch and a sad turtle. The second patio is currently under construction. When it opens, Rush plans on having a bar that features liquor from 3 Howls, his distillery that recently moved production to Rush’s Double V Distillery in Battle Ground.
In the future, the team will expand their hours and add breakfast items including deep-fried breakfast calzones as well as salads and sandwiches made with seasonal ingredients for lunch. For now The Thirsty Sasquatch is open from 4 p.m. to midnight every day except Tuesday.