New owner, new look for Charlie's Bar & Grill in Olympia

Extensive renovation, including new outdoor seating area with retractable roof, gives site much-needed TLC

Staff writerMarch 30, 2014 

  • CHARLIE’S BAR & GRILL

    Location: 620 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia.

    Owner: Mike Barrett.

    Years in business: Longtime business was purchased by Barrett last summer, then reopened Jan. 3.

    Employees: 15.

    Online: facebook.com/charliesbarandgrillolympia.

    Hours: 11 a.m. to as late as 2 a.m., depending on the amount of customer activity at the time, seven days a week.

    Parking: An 11-space parking lot is behind the business.

    Advice to business owners: Work hard and follow your vision, Barrett said.

    Did you know? Barrett also is the owner of The Brick on Trosper in Tumwater. He also is following in his father’s footsteps by continuing the tradition of running a local business. His father, Tom Barrett, owns The Oyster House, also in downtown Olympia, which is in the process of being rebuilt after it burned down in July.

Charlie’s Bar & Grill, a longtime watering hole at Chestnut Street and Fourth Avenue in downtown Olympia, has reopened after an extensive renovation of the business.

The result is that it is no longer your father’s Charlie’s Bar & Grill.

The business has a new interior design, new tables, a new kitchen, a new bar, a new menu, a new outdoor seating area and a new owner.

In fact, there is nothing left that would remind a visitor about what Charlie’s used to be: an aging tavern in need of a face-lift.

Making all the changes is new owner Mike Barrett, a proven restaurateur who has run The Brick on Trosper in Tumwater for nearly seven years.

After a purchase conversation that started with the previous owner of the business, Barrett finally bought the property and business from former landlord George Walsh, according to Thurston County Assessor’s Office data.

Once Barrett took over in July, he spent the next few months whipping the place into shape.

It now has the feel of a well-oiled sports bar.

Several flat-screen TVs dot the walls, both inside and outside, plus it has sports memorabilia — including Lacey native and professional soccer goalkeeper Kasey Keller’s autographed jersey — and historic photos of Olympia.

Barrett said his vision for the business was to make a positive change and to attract a different demographic downtown.

“I don’t want it to become a party bar,” he said, adding that he made a similar transition at The Brick, transforming it from tavern to a destination for wood-fired pizzas.

Charlie’s sells appetizers, wraps, sandwiches and burgers, with prices ranging from $4.99 to $11.99. The business also offers 20 beers on tap, most of them Northwest microbrews.

The outdoor seating area, which is covered by a retractable roof, features more TVs, two skee-ball machines — the business is home to several skee-ball teams — and video games, such as four-person Pac-Man.

Barrett is following in the footsteps of his parents, who have run several businesses over the years. His father, Tom, owns The Oyster House, which is being rebuilt after a fire. Before that, his parents ran two businesses downtown: a Dairy Queen on Capitol Way and Little Richard’s, a former sandwich shop on Fifth Avenue.

Barrett recalled what his father told him after he bought what would become The Brick on Trosper. “No one can fire you,” his father said, “but you just bought yourself a job.”

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403
rboone@theolympian.com

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