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A beloved Seattle pizza shop reopens after a 7-month renovation

A treasured haunt near the University of Washington reopened, serving up hot slices and pints.

SEATTLE — A beloved Seattle pizza shop reopened Wednesday under new ownership.

Northlake Tavern and Pizza House in the University District closed in January when its owner retired after 65 years in business.

Big Mario’s New York Style Pizza, which has three other Seattle locations, took over the business and reopened the shop as Big Mario’s Northlake Tavern.

The team originally planned a two-month closure to do kitchen work, but it turned into a seven-month renovation project after discovering wood rot in the original bar, kitchen, floor, bar cabinets and office. Crews also built a new storefront due to water damage.

"The project took on a much bigger scope than originally intended,” Owner Jason Lajeunesse said in a statement. “While we thought the space would make a perfect Big Mario's upon hearing of its closing, and imagined this a simple flip, we quickly discovered that the space and infrastructure needed a full extensive rehab."

Big Mario’s promised some of the ambiance and menu items that made the Northlake special will still be there. It preserved Northlake Tavern memorabilia, including a collection of David Horsey cartoons, which will be hung in the building. The original bar, booths and stools were also rebuilt. And the menu includes two Northlake signature pizzas – the Northlake Logger and the Northlake Classic Combo.

“It was important to us to keep the core tenants of the Northlake intact," Lajeunesse said.

However, there will also be some updates, including all-ages seating and a beefed-up take-out section.

Herb and Evelyn Friedman opened Northlake Tavern in 1953, relocating to be near the University of Washington campus a year later. Cheryl Berkovich-Winzenread and her husband bought the restaurant in the 1980s, eventually selling it to Abdoullah, who was trained by Friedman and worked at the restaurant since 1981.

In a January letter to customers, Abdoullah said he needed to focus on health issues and was happy Big Mario’s would “continue in the Northlake tradition.”


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