Capitol Hill food+drink | Longtime barman ready to build own Broadway congregation with Witness


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Gregg Holcomb has popped up in the CHS community here and there over the years.

Here he was (humbly) working the joint when he was at E Olive Way’s Knee High Stocking Company.

Here he was letting us know about the sudden passing of Chez Gaudy, the tucked-away Bellevue Ave restaurant that he used to manage.

By June, the 14-year Capitol Hill resident is hoping to start building a community of his own on Broadway. Expect a spiritual leaning.

“You’re offering your testimony, your presence — there is kind of like a revelation standpoint,” Holcomb says of the name the longtime bartender and manager is giving the first project of his own creation — Witness.

“Taste one of my drinks and I hope I’ll hear a hallelujah,” he laughs.

Holcomb, who shares a one-bedroom place with his wife and his 5-year-old within walking distance of Broadway, is taking over the space left vacant by the exit of Five Fish Bistro after its one year of existence. Shaped in the spirit of the churches of his southern roots, Witness is also slated to be part of a minor miracle as the first-time bar owner pushes hard for a pre-Pride June opening. “God willing,” quips Holcomb.

While he is first to admit his attempts at finding religion at nearby All Pilgrims “didn’t stick,” Holcomb still found himself attracted to the sense of community fostered in “people dropping their pretense and just being genuinely concerned about each other.” Witness, he hopes, will foster a similar spirit. With spirits.

Expect a southern-tinged take on craft cocktails in a barroom of dark wood. With the kitchen in good shape from its most recent tenant’s buildout, Re-Settle Design — also behind the Capitol Cider plans — was able to focus the build on the bar and seating space.

Behind the bar, Holcomb is planning to bring his craft cocktail knowledge and experience to bear but also be ready to move beyond the craft cocktail, ahem, Canon, and serve more basic drinkin’ fare — served properly and with care, of course. On the kitchen’s bar-style menu you’ll find southern gotta-haves like fried chicken and pulled pork. Holcomb shared more of the treats you’ll find at Witness with Seattle Met.

Witness comes as Holcomb and his family are ready to begin a new phase in their lives on Capitol Hill. His five-year-old is about to begin kindergarten at the nearby public school. There is now time for the tender to step from behind the bar and build his congregation.

“I’ve wanted to run my own restaurant pretty much since I started,” Holcomb said. “With the start of kindergarten in the fall, this is just the right time.”

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • You'll be able to sit here in Lost Lake... soon (Image: Lost Lake Cafe)

    You’ll be able to sit here in Lost Lake… soon (Image: Lost Lake Cafe)

    Bill’s off Broadway is headed way off Broadway. But will be back.

  • Here’s what the new Ada’s Technical Bookstore — and cafe — will look like on 15th Ave E.
  • Vostok Dumpling House debuted last week. What do you think?
  • Lost Lake Cafe, all 24 hours per day of it, is putting on its final touches. Tell us when you have your first plate of eggs so we can come take a picture.
  • Little Uncle is ready to go sit down — but not on Capitol Hill. You’ll soon find the full-size Little Uncle in Pioneer Square. Don’t fret. Little Uncle’s E Madison walk-up will remain, PK and Wiley Frank say.
  • Canon now has brunch (PDF) and you can have a a toucan gin fizz — gin, cereal milk, lemon, egg white, soda. Follow the nose…
  • Here is a weird article about the mayor attending Plum’s new vegan cookbook release party.
  • “The concept of Smith is definitely that neighborhood, very regular-driven business…”
  • Remedy Teas, now at Central Co-op.
  • Oola wants a federal tax break.
  • Three of the top 10 in 2013 “Seattle Food Establishment” roster are big-time Capitol Hill players. How long until Tom Douglas bellies up to the Hill?
  • Unicorn Chef Planning German Pop-Up at Kedai Makan” — and then the foodie Internet died.
  • Seattle gets no Beard in 2013.
  • The BottleNeck hosted its annual Kentucky Derby party and enjoyed the come-from-behind excitement… of mint juleps.
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5 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Longtime barman ready to build own Broadway congregation with Witness

  1. Soooooo excited to hear that Gregg is opening his own place!! We went to Knee High last weekend for the first time in a long time and it just wasn’t the same without him there. Gregg is the best bartender with the best personality! We will definitely be keeping an eye out for the opening.

  2. Have been a big fan of Gregg’s since getting to know him when I was the Wine Steward at the Broadway Market QFC. Very excited to hear he is opening a place of his own.

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  4. Pingback: Attention sinners, saints — Witness ready for first service on Broadway | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle