The newest addition to the Uptown 23rd Street corridor is a bar where old guitars replace flat screen televisions and where a cold beer might be found in a 1939 Frigidaire “Cold Wall.”
Grandad's, 317 NW 23, set to open next month, is Greg Seal's tribute to his grandfathers, Harvey Parrish and Kenneth Seal.
Corrugated metal siding was pulled from Parrish's old barn in McLoud; the actual address of Kenneth Seal's old home was incorporated as well. A well-worn guitar waiting to be played sits by a fading living room set of couches and chairs. Parrish's old motorcycle is on display on a high shelf just over a wall collage of photos of both men.
Everything about Grandad's is “old school,” including the logo created by designers Brian Winkeler and Phillip Schroeder.
“I'm recreating the environment my grandfathers had when I was growing up, how I saw them interact with friends whether out at the lake or working on a car,” Seal said. “They always were ready to greet someone with a handshake. Listening to Kitty Wells, Buck Owens and Bob Wills; and everyone was a bluegrass picker. We would sit around picking at instruments, singing songs.”
Seal said he looked at several spots for his new bar, but immediately fell in love with the empty storefront on NW 23, part of a series of shops built in 1936. The Art Deco facade and original crown molding and pressed tin ceiling fit his own childhood memories of good times spent with his grandparents.
“I remember when my grandmother would bring me to NW 23 when Streets (department store) was here — it was the end of the area's heyday,” Seal said. “Even in college I got to go to a couple of rock shows at the Tower Theater before it was shut down all together.”
Resurgence in the area
Grandad's, a nonsmoking bar, joins a growing list of businesses and developers being drawn to NW 23, which is being re-branded as Uptown 23rd Street.
About a block west, at 600 NW 23, Pizza 23 and Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt are set to open across the street from Big Truck Tacos, 530 NW 23. Big Truck Tacos, along with Cheever's Cafe, 2409 N Hudson, are an inspiration to Seal as he prepares to open his first bar.
“They rolled the dice, they were doing all right, and if there is to be a resurgence for the area, we want to be a part of it,” Seal said.
Seal's wife, Jennifer, is equally excited about the area's future and is helping relaunch the Uptown 23rd Street Association that was last led by Michael Smith, whose own interior design store once included the space now set to become Granddad's.
To date the association has signed up leading restaurants and shops in the area, hosted block cleanups and started social media promotion of the strip.