As astute readers of local and social media have probably discovered by now, The Northlake Tavern & Pizza House will close its doors on January 31, after 65 years of serving their unique style of pizza, overloaded with toppings, to UW students, alumni, and the neighborhood at large. In a January 7 Facebook post, the Northlake’s chef and owner, Abdoullah (who has been with the establishment for 42 years), stated that he is retiring “to focus on [his] current health issues.”
Wallingford pizza lovers need not despair, however, for after a brief closure for “clean-up, equipment replacement, and furnishing updates” local mini-chain Big Mario’s Pizza will be reopening those same hallowed doors sometime in “mid to late March.” The Northlake location will be Big Mario’s fourth, the others being in Capitol Hill, Queen Anne, and Fremont.
Big Mario’s owner, Jason Lajeunesse states that they “plan to keep the core tenants of the Northlake including its amazing decor,” as well as the David Horsey cartoons. To that decor (which evokes an era of Seattle pre-billionaire) the new owners will be adding “Big Mario’s hospitality staples such as pull tabs, games, liquor, indoor and outdoor all-age dining options, classic VHS movies, and finally, Big Mario’s pizza.” Will there be windows? Time will tell.
A final send-off for the Northlake is scheduled for Tuesday, January 31, from 5pm to close, where “friends and neighbors are invited to join previous owners and staff, old and new for a farewell party and sign the official guest book for Abdoullah.”
If recent posts to the Northlake’s social media are any indication, this closing party may be a chaotic scene. Recent comments on the Northlake’s Facebook page have warned, “The lines have been CRAZY all week. 50+ people waiting outside. Good luck getting in.” And “Hour long wait to get in. Once we were in another hour and a half for the pizza…And no take out.”
As I walked down Northlake Way on a recent weekday afternoon around 4:30, I-5 rumbling overhead, more than two dozen people lined the sidewalk outside, waiting for a final chance to dine at the Northlake. I asked the folks standing by the door how long they’d been there. “About an hour, and the lobby inside is packed. It’ll be awhile.” So be prepared and be patient, or maybe be satisfied with your memories of the Northlake.
My personal memories of The Northlake Tavern & Pizza House are mixed. I always enjoyed the unpretentious simplicity of the operation, but, while unique, those pies had just too many toppings for my taste and I rarely visited in recent years. I was more likely to be found at the Big Mario’s on Leary Way, which has a relaxed vibe, delicious New York style slices, and a great beer selection.
So farewell to the Northlake, best wishes to Abdoullah, and may Big Mario’s have as good a run in that space as did its iconic predecessor.