A wizard-themed pub is coming to Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, but the proprietors who are busily building out the historic Flatiron Building insist they’ve been there all along, watching us and waiting for the right time to re-engage with the modern world.
The Splintered Wand will occupy a unique space at 5135 Ballard Ave., mixing with the leafy neighborhood’s industrial businesses, bars and trendy shops. My Ballard reported on the plan this week, after a liquor license posting. The building, built in 1896, is a historic landmark and was originally home to Ballard Livery and Transfer, a large moving company.
Geoffrey Thaddeus Constantine Balch is a wizard and a wand maker and sometime in the next few months, along with partner Andrea Ravnholm, he plans to open the doors to an establishment that will serve eclectic drinks and menu items while also crafting magical wands, all in a setting steeped in fantasy. They acquired the building last summer.
“We loved this area from the very beginning,” Balch said. “When we showed up the natives were still here.” Pointing at a historic marker on the side of the brick building, featuring an early 1900s photograph of some sort of parade passing by the space, Balch promised that if we zoomed in, we’d be able to spot him in the crowd.
Balch, who insisted on adhering to his wizard name and persona throughout a visit this week, has a website for his wand-making business, Piscataqua & Balch, which offers a detailed history of where the wizards originated.
“We’re in the same world, it’s just we’re 2.3 seconds ahead,” Balch reasoned. “You can’t go farther than 2.3 seconds — 2.3 seconds is right on the verge of making a decision in the future that would affect too closely and too quickly the immediate past. That’s the one thing we can’t do is affect the future.”
For the purposes of reality, GeekWire got a look inside what will become The Splintered Wand — but Balch asked that we please wait on pictures.
Brick, tile, wood, iron and stained-glass accents all collide inside the space that is still being built out. Magical flourishes and fantastical details are still to be realized. A cozy bar in the back of the ground-floor level will feature concoctions fit for such a place.
“This isn’t a bar like you’ll ever be in, probably, again, unless you’re in one of these,” Balch said. “I’ve been in your bars. You will not come in and see bottles of what you expect. … There will be a potions that can be created with all of the accompanying smoke and fire and bubbling and cauldron-looking stuff.”
The pub will be kid friendly for certain hours, Balch said, and the main focus of the menu will be large skewers of meats and vegetables of various kinds — picture flattened Yorkshire pudding rolled up like an English burrito.
Above the main seating area is a mezzanine where the wand shop will be located. Natural light flows into the space from a large rooftop skylight. This space will feature a little more seating and “magical ephemera” and is where Balch will “make the best wands in the world” … priced at about $30. A video on Facebook shows what that process looks like:
A wand crafted specifically for Brian Steiner at the 2017 Harry Potter Yule Ball, Saint Lous, Missouri.
Posted by Piscataqua & Balch, Makers of Fine Wands & Staves on Thursday, December 21, 2017
“I think there is a hunger for this stuff, quite frankly. We live in trying times. In character and out of character I can tell you that I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter. I directed a Renaissance festival in St. Louis. Fantasy things have been part and parcel of my life really since I started playing ‘D&D’ in probably 1979.”
Seattle, and Ballard especially, clearly seem to embrace wizards and fantasy of all sorts. Not far from the neighborhood’s retail core, a father wowed the world around Halloween 2017 by building a replica of Diagon Alley from Harry Potter in his driveway. Just around the corner from The Splintered Wand, Mox Boarding House serves as a community gathering space for game-playing geeks of all kinds.
“We love Mox. We go to Mox. I adore Mox. I want to talk to their people. I don’t see us a competitors, I see us as an elastic market. We’re not trying to sell games or focus on them,” Balch said. “There are plenty of places to go play the game. This is where you come to be the game.”
The pub and wand shop will likely employ five to eight people, all of whom will have a performance aspect to their jobs, according to Balch. He said they’re currently looking for a spectacular drinks wizard to work behind the bar.
On a street that attracts nightly bar hoppers and Sunday farmer’s market walkers, The Splintered Wand is sure to attract all kinds.
“I want people to be able to come in here in garb and live their fantasy, but by the same token, we’re going to have parents that are coming here that aren’t as bought in, as invested in the concept, and other people who are going to come in because they just want to see it,” Balch said. “We hope it’s cool enough that people will just come see it because it’s cool.”