Thinking back to days gone by, you may recall a little restaurant in West Wash Park on the SW corner of Downing and Alameda called The Park Lane Cafe owned by Paul Gatchis, Sr. This was the neighborhoods hot spot for a great breakfast, lunch and dinner. Always packed on the weekends, with mainly the local regulars, a restaurant loved and lost. Fast forward to 1996; building demolished, parking and building re-situated into a shoppette, and a new local favorite restaurant added, the Handlebar & Grill. The brainchild of Mike Miller, who now owns and runs Basil Docs Pizza, a local cycle enthusiast and racer brings a theme to the masses of area cyclists. Then in 2006 Mike sold this business and the theme seemed to lose its mojo without Mike and his fervor for cycling there to sponsor teams and talk cycling with the patrons.
Once again, fast forward, 2010, Handlebar & Grill is gone and there’s a new restaurant about to take West Wash Park by storm. The owner of this building for more than 30 years, Paul Gatchis Sr., has now given control to son Paul Gatchis, Jr. for a restaurant venture to set a new precedence in West Wash Park. The Downing St. Bar & Grille looks to be the perfect mix of what this neighborhood needs in a favorite local breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour hangout. The opening will take place next week sometime, so keep your eyes open! Paul Jr. was able to keep most all the former employees of the Handlebar & Grill. He’s revamped and expanded the lunch and dinner menus and added a full breakfast menu. The kitchen equipment is all new, the dining room freshly painted, booth benches recovered, tabletops redone and the new signs are up.
Paul plans on making this restaurant everything to everybody. A tall order perhaps, but I think we’re all in for a pleasant surprise. Having a new breakfast spot in the neighborhood seemed like the dream come true and only got better when I heard that breakfast will be served 7 days a week starting at 6:30 am, in March he will offer 2 for 1 breakfasts M-F, full coffee drink menu and with a coffee of the month offering. Lunch and dinner will keep some old favorite dishes from the Handlebar & Grill but will have more seafood dishes, salad choices, a margarita menu, additional draft beer choices (soon to be 20 taps), expanded wine menu, daily beer and wine specials and 2 happy hours. Paul wants it to be clear that his dishes will be made from fresh ingredients. Hollandaise sauces and breakfast potatoes prepared fresh daily are just a couple examples of what to expect.
The restaurant will open in its existing interior layout next week but will have a major facelift by May of this year in the bar area. The bar area, in the west side of the building, will be doubled in size, the bar itself will be doubled in length with plenty of flat screen TV’s added for a great place to hang with your friends and enjoy the game over a good meal and drink.
So WWP’ers, please show your support for our newest addition to the neighborhood and walk on over to the Downing St. Bar & Grille, say hello to Paul and welcome him “back” to the hood.