Heyday – Not Your Average Burger Joint


In the kind of cosmic connection that makes us all smile, Gary Snyder, co-owner of Geraldine’s Counter and now co-owner of Heyday, shares a random point of intersection with that other Gary Snyder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Zen Buddhist, and protagonist of Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums. The publisher of Gary Snyder, the poet, is also named Heyday. Gary Snyder, the restauranteur, had no idea. He and his business partner, Dang Nguyen, chose the playful name because the space is located on Day Street in Seattle’s quiet Mount Baker neighborhood. “Names are really hard to come by,” Snyder said. “My partner came up with Heyday and it just stuck. It works.”


Heyday is no ordinary burger joint. Starting with the interior. The space was designed by Graham Baba, the architect behind many treasured eating spots such as Melrose Market, Chophouse Row, and La Spiga. Floor-to-ceiling windows, sleek lighting, concrete floors, slotted wood on the walls and ceiling, and the use of lots of blue in the tile work that surrounds the bar and an inspired geometric mural that adorns a back wall give the space a warm, modern look.


And the burgers aren’t the usual assortment. The menu was created by Melissa Nyffeler, the former chef/owner of the beloved Capitol Hill restaurant Dinette, which closed in 2013. The Saigon patty has equal portions beef, pork, and shrimp and is topped with Napa cabbage, fresh mint, cilantro, pickled daikon, carrots, and Sriracha aioli. Other offerings are made with lamb, bison, falafel, jerk chicken, and cod. All are served on Macrina Bakery’s potato buns and served with a side of the house-made pickles. Creative starters such as blackened cauliflower are excellent, and so are the hand-cut french fries that are deep-fried twice for the perfect crunch. The thick, crispy onion rings shouldn’t be overlooked. Another standout is the house-made pickled vegetables served with every burger and available as an appetizer.


Snyder and crew went through a lengthy process to choose the right bun for their burgers, looking for one that would hold all the ingredients without getting soggy or being so firm that the filling squeezes out. “Originally I thought we should have a different bun that works for each burger,” Snyder said. “We sampled multiple buns from different bakeries. Macrina’s potato bun just worked, and it worked on every burger. Such a good bun. It toasts really well. We decided we didn’t need different varieties.”


Heyday is family-friendly, with the space split about evenly between seating in the adults-only bar and the all-ages restaurant side. “We get a lot of families. I almost wish I had more room than I do. That’s the part that fills the quickest,” Snyder said.

While the neighborhood is quiet, Heyday is open late. Regular hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 4 p.m. to 11 p.m, with the kitchen serving until 10 p.m. At some point next year weekend brunch may become a reality. Keep your ears open. Geraldine’s brunch is so highly-regarded that the to-be-determined offerings will surely be worth investigating.



Skillet Street Food: Paving the Way with the Perfect Bun

Skillet Airstream.Josh Henderson

A pioneer for food trucks, Skillet Street Food blazed the trail for mobile food across the nation. With Josh Henderson in the driver’s seat, Skillet has made its mark on the Seattle food scene with flawlessly executed diner fare served out of an Airstream trailer. Since its launch in 2007, Josh has opened Skillet Diner and Skillet Counter – brick-and-mortar locations featuring comforting classics enjoyed at a more relaxed pace. But, for Josh, it always comes back to basics: the cheeseburger.

In 1998, Josh graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York with an appetite for adventure but no direct route to get there. It wasn’t until an advantageous move to California that Josh found his calling.

“Right after school I moved back to Seattle,” explains Josh. “I was trying to make a living to support my family. Then I left Seattle in 2002 and moved to L.A. That’s where I started working in the entertainment industry on film sets.”

Traveling the country as a private chef for professional photographers on flashy photo shoots, like Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Porsche, Josh’s inspiration for Seattle street food was born. Feeling a bit homesick and ready for something new, Josh packed up and returned to Seattle to launch Skillet Street Food.

In the beginning, Skillet regularly parked down the street from Macrina’s SODO location, the perfect spot for Rebecca Early and Leslie Mackie to grab a burger for lunch. It wasn’t long before Josh, Leslie, and Rebecca were talking shop and dreaming up the perfect bun for Skillet’s burger.

“I’m a huge fan of Leslie and Macrina is an icon in Seattle, so I was stoked to have her come by. I think at the time we were just using a potato roll from the grocery store,” recalls Josh. “I think Macrina is one of the better bakeries in Seattle and it can really handle the volume. Eventually, Leslie, Rebecca and I came up with the SODO bun.”

With the SODO Bun a success, Skillet menus now also feature Macrina’s buttery Brioche Burger Bun and Rustic Potato Roll.

Now, Josh is keeping his eyes on the road ahead. With Westward and Little Gull Grocery opening this summer and Woodinville’s Hollywood Tavern relaunching under Josh’s direction, there’s no chance he’ll be slowing down any time soon.