Food & Drink

West Seattle’s Haymaker Becomes a New Neighborhood Favorite

Chef Brian Clevenger’s sixth restaurant emphasizes protein-rich entrées while still serving the pasta his fans have come to love

By Chelsea Lin November 15, 2019


This article originally appeared in the November 2019 issue of Seattle magazine.

This article appears in print in the November 2019 issue. Click here to subscribe.

Brian Clevenger gets bored easily. This isn’t conjecture; he readily admits that he’s the kind of chef and restaurateur who likes to work, which is why you’ll see him in the kitchen, at least a few nights a week, at his newest restaurant, Haymaker in West Seattle. When he’s not there, he’s cooking at one of his other full-service restaurants: Vendemmia (Madrona), East Anchor Seafood (Madrona), Raccolto (West Seattle) or Le Messe (Eastlake). He even swings by G.H. Pasta Co. (Denny Triangle) to make sure that the casual lunchtime bowls of pasta served there—extremely popular with the neighborhood’s lanyard-wearing tech set—are up to his characteristically high standards. 

Chef Brian Clevenger has grown his restaurant empire General Harvest Restaurants to six, with the newest addition of Haymaker in West Seattle

Clevenger says he’s addicted to the process of opening a restaurant—taking an idea and bringing it to fruition, solving problems along the way. That helps explain how his empire of General Harvest Restaurants has already grown to six; his first, Vendemmia, opened just four years ago. Although the themes of all of these places are similar—a “simple approach to great product; I don’t like fussy food or fads,” he says—each feels very much like an individual neighborhood restaurant, not part of a larger restaurant group. That’s because Clevenger has intentionally chosen locations that allow his restaurants to be an integral part of the neighborhood, not in splashy new construction downtown or trendy hot spots like Ballard or Capitol Hill. He believes 80% of a restaurant’s business comes from 20% of its customers.

Judging by the buzz in West Seattle leading up to Haymaker’s opening in August, he’s not wrong. Residents of the neighborhood, where Clevenger also lives, have been showing up since day one, many ignoring the online reservation option and stopping by in hopes of scoring a table. With its high ceilings, exposed brick, seating for 50 (and another 18 on the patio), and location near West Seattle’s most congested nexus, this white and gray space has far more foot traffic than any of Clevenger’s other spots.

Pasta, like this agnolotti, has put Clevenger’s restaurants on the map

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