The Spokane dining scene wasn’t always as captivating as it is today. Thirteen years ago that changed with the debut of Downriver Grill in North Spokane. At that time there were two dining choices, the casual or the high-end dining experience and nothing in between. Downriver opened a new segment, offering guests an experience that was all inclusive—an affordable fine-dining experience where customers could come in casual after a day on the golf course or dressed up for that special date night. They would all be offered the same high-end experience and service, without the formal setting or steep prices.
Downriver underwent its first major remodel in 2012. “We strived to update the atmosphere with our community in mind,” says Jonathan Sweatt, co-owner. The dark wood and modern lighting, paired with the grey and blue hues, is inviting and soothing and reflects a more contemporary chic dining experience.
To accompany the experience, the menu includes fine ingredients, sourced in-state, using specialty local companies, which Executive Chef Tyler Gardner and his chefs source the best in meat, seafood and wild mushrooms, along with other seasonal fruits and vegetables that become available.
While 60 percent of the menu is constant with local favorites, the restaurant offers seasonal menu items throughout the year, and a fresh sheet is offered every two weeks. The Downriver also offers happy hour every day and all day on Wednesdays (which features their popular “Chef’s Burger-of-the-Moment”), and gourmet breakfast on the weekends.
“Our guests come in and taste some of the best foods the Pacific Northwest has to offer,” says Juli Norris, co-owner. In addition, “We use cutting-edge culinary techniques and the highest quality ingredients possible, while keeping the goal in mind of making our food affordable and approachable.” The restaurant continues to grow its loyal following while maintaining the goals set forth from the beginning.
Jon Sedas, bar manager, creates handcrafted cocktails, incorporating fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, like peaches and cherries from Greenbluff and herbs from their ever-growing patio garden. The wine and beer lists focus on the Pacific Northwest, with 90 percent of wines from Spokane and Walla Walla wineries.
Through the food, wine and even the art from local artist Ben Joyce adorning the walls, Downriver expresses the importance of connecting with the community. With 13 years serving the neighborhood, Downriver has continued to nurture its relationships in the community, which has embraced them like family.
In 2010, the property across the street from Downriver Grill became available and soon became the Flying Goat. The neighborhood was ready for yet another gathering place to complement the area restaurants. The decision was made to specialize in artisan pizzas and brews. The craft beer scene was just beginning to emerge in Spokane; Jonathan knew it was the perfect time to jump on board. They started with a 15-tap beer selection and cellared beers aging until they are ready for optimal drinking. They also offer local house wine by Townshend Cellar.
With its modern rustic decor, 90 percent of the reclaimed wood in the restaurant came from a grain elevator in Ritzville. It offers patrons a cozy and inviting space, even with its industrial look.
Every item on the menu is prepared in house and fresh, from the sauces for the pizzas to the salad dressings. The handmade dough is made fresh each morning. The meat is smoked right there at the restaurant, processing 250 pounds of pulled pork per month for their Dalton pizza and pulled pork sandwiches. “We have a standard that we commit to and stay with,” says Executive Chef Darrin Gleason. Consistency is another important element to the cuisine for Darrin and his crew. “I don’t think people realize that everything is done from scratch. Nothing is premade or prepackaged.”
The Flying Goat filled a niche in the North Side neighborhood, and the South Hill was now beckoning Jonathan for an artisan pizza spot of its own. Jonathan and his family grew up on the South Hill, and he had wanted to open a restaurant there for the past 20 years. The right property became available at the right time, and Republic Pi was opened in April of 2015.
To create the atmosphere they had envisioned, the remodel included an exhibition-style kitchen and expanded bar seating. The unique look in the restaurant was created with a special wood finish technique known as Shou Sugi Ban, where the wood used was charred then scraped clean. A highlight at the restaurant is a beautiful community table made from beams which can seat up to 14 people and can be reserved for private parties. Once again, they offer a gathering place for the local community.
The menu offerings include an array of distinctive and delicious appetizers, salad entrees, sandwiches and of course unique artisan pizzas. Craft cocktails are available, along with a wine list of Italian, Californian and Pacific Northwest wines, and 21 taps including seasonal brews from local Perry Street Brewing. Republic Pi is the perfect meeting place for a late-night snack and cocktail.
Through the years and openings, the entire team at all three restaurants is focused on giving Spokane a better culinary experience, a flavor you won’t find at any other place and people who enjoy keeping their standards high. In addition, Jonathan, Juli, Darrin and the rest of their team support the community in other ways, participating in charitable events such as the Guild School, Gleason Fest, The ISAAC Foundation, Big Table and Cancer Can’t. “We are in the hospitality industry because we’re here to serve the people and support our local community,” Jonathan says.
North Side 3315 W. Northwest Blvd.
The Flying Goat
North Side 3318 W. Northwest Blvd.
South Hill 611 E. 30th Ave.