Tim Mellema of The Forum restaurant in Puyallup knows an opportunity when he sees it.
He’d been eyeing the space occupied by Paddy Coyne’s Irish Pub in Tacoma’s downtown corridor for more than a year, so when it became available, after State Farm made its announcement earlier this spring, he jumped on it.
“The day after the other business was shut down, I was in contact with the Realtor,” Mellema said. “The right opportunity came up and we had to go with it. With State Farm having taken the Russell building, it was the perfect space for a place like ours to be there.”
Mellema and his business partners, Greg and Tanya Troger and Geoff Kaylor, plan to open The Forum Tacoma by the end of the year.
The concept will be similar to the restaurant Mellema owns with Kaylor in Puyallup, serving sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips and other pub eats. But, because of its proximity to a growing workforce, he’s considering opening the new location for breakfast.
The downtown space — about 4,100 square feet — is more than double the size of that in Puyallup, with a considerably larger kitchen.
Unlike the existing location, which Mellema gutted before building his eatery, the Tacoma site only requires some cosmetic updates to create the warm, cozy ambience he’s envisioning.
“The building is just stunningly gorgeous,” he said. “We spent a ton of money in Puyallup to make the bar look gorgeous and like it’s been there 100 years. The bar in Tacoma actually has been there 100 years.”
“This one in pretty much turn-key, except with replacing appliances and minimal cosmetic stuff.”
The dark wood and stone on the walls will remain, as will the impressive handcrafted bar, complete with carvings in the wood and stained glass cabinetry.
The rod iron railing that separated the bar from the seating along the back wall has been removed though, opening up the space considerably.
Patrons can expect to see reupholstered booths and some new colors on the walls too.
Mellema is also trying to find black and white photos of the property from the last 100 years to hang on the walls.
The 21-and-up establishment should be open in about 60 days.
“We want it to be Tacoma’s place to eat, meet and drink. I want it to be a place where you can go on a date or bring coworkers for lunch,” said Greg Troger, the future restaurant’s general manager.