In a single year, since moving to Bainbridge from Seattle, Tanner Baughman has brought three novelties to the local culinary scene, the latest of which, Timber, a cozy wood-lined bar in the Pavilion which opened about two months ago, is now the island’s only dedicated steakhouse.
Baughman and his business partner opened Safron Bistro, a Mediterranean restaurant also located in the Pavilion, in October 2017. Now his primary focus is Timber, right next door, and growing the stable of restaurants participating in his new island-wide home delivery service IslandBite (www.islandbite.com).
“So far it’s been pretty smooth,” Baughman said. “People are enjoying it.”
Delivery from any of the seven establishments currently utilizing Baughman’s new system — Bainbridge Island BBQ, Casa Rojas, Spice Route Cuisine, Timber, Bene Pizza, Safron Bistro and SuBi Japanese Restaurant — typically takes about an hour, he said. Though, if they get too busy, eatery owners can opt out.
“On the few days when the weather’s turned we’ve seen a big spike in orders,” Baughman said.
“When the restaurants get too busy they can shut off the delivery option. When the restaurant is full you have to take care of your tables,” he explained. “You’re probably not going to be able to order from SuBi at 6 o’clock on Friday night. You might have to wait until 7.”
IslandBite offers delivery anywhere on Bainbridge, and Baughman said he’s in the process of recruiting more member restaurants from Rolling Bay and Lynwood.
And Timber, though open for business (Monday through Saturday from 3 o 10 p.m.), is also still expanding.
For now it’s a 21-and-older only spot due to state liquor laws and the lack of a partition between the bar and table seating. Soon, however, Baughman said the glass front will be extended to allow more seating and a small music stage, and a semi-separated dining area in the back, with a separate entrance, will be completed, where families with kids can sit.
“It’s technically a bar, so some people are disappointed when they show up with the family,” Baughman said. “For now, for people with families, the kids got to stay home [and] a lot of people are enjoying that. ‘Wow, this is kind of great to be able to go to a restaurant on Bainbridge and not have a bunch of screaming kids running around.’”
Some repeat customers, of which he’s already seen several, have in fact suggested Baughman nix the whole family section plan.
“A lot of the people that do have kids say, ‘No, no, no, leave it this way,’” he said. “‘Give us one place we can go without children running around.’”
Timber specializes in steak — New York, filet mignon, flat iron, ribeye — something Baughman said was noticably absent from the island’s culinary landscape.
“We noticed there’s nobody that really does steak,” he said. “You can find a couple little things around, but nobody that’s just doing that.”
The menu also boasts a BBQ pork sandwich, a custom hamburger, spicy clams, garlic wings, “Dynamite Shrimp” (crispy friend shrimp in a spicy dipping sauce with southern cole slaw), a wedge and green salad and, of course, frites.
“It’s been well received,” Baughman said. “We’ve had quite a few return customers. We’re seeing a lot better return rate than we did at Safron, and … it kind of makes sense [because] any ethnic food is sort of your break from normal day-to-day stuff. So how many times are you going to go back and eat there? So, I’m very happy about that aspect, that in seven weeks we see the same faces come back three or four times and bring friends and family.”
In fact, people have been “overly excited” about the new place, Baughman laughed.
“There are just so few options, and getting fewer and fewer, so people are always happy to see a new place,” he said. “It’s kind of a big deal if you live somewhere that just doesn’t have a lot of restaurants.”
Having now opened his second restaurant in the Pavilion, Baughman, originally from Pensacola, Florida, said the other business owners there had been very friendly and supportive. Centralized growth is, he said, good for business.
“More people driven to one spot is good for business no matter what,” he said. “There are studies on this, when you have more things in one location it can only drive more people to that location. So it’s a bit counterintuitive on the surface, but the more people that are coming, if [another restaurant] is booked and it’s an hour wait for your reservation [you] can come over here and have a cocktail. Maybe they’ll decide to stay here and cancel there.”