Published on July 6th, 2015 | by Rachel Ervin0
Stars align at the Zodiac Supper Club
If I were a 1970s Playboy bunny, I would need a comfortable watering hole to let down my ears after a long day at the grotto. It would have to be cool, not stuffy. A place a girl could get a French 75 and a nice slab of meat, or a simple can of Hamm’s and a salad. After clocking off, soft lighting would be essential; preferably lit by the polychromatic offerings of some good swag lamps.
All of my favorite colors would be on display: black, gold, and bubble gum pink. And the bathrooms would be bathed in glitter.
Luckily, I don’t need to be on the Heffner payroll or have a time machine to fulfill these desires, for such a magical place now exists in Tacoma and is opening this week.
Dana Claar Verellen, Dave Verellen, and Suzanne Ramon are opening the doors of The Zodiac Supper Club at 745 St. Helens (right next door to the Silverstone) on Tuesday, July 7 at 4 pm. I caught a sneak peek at the soft opening on July 3.
Dana, a San Diego native, had been dreaming up this bar for over a decade when a few years ago, husband Dave (the “doer,” she tells me) asked “Why aren’t we? Why don’t we?” So she, Dave, and Suzanne got to work making their dream a reality.
With inspiration drawn from the hi-low lounges of Southern California, like San Diego’s Riviera Supper Club and Turf Supper Club, where patrons can enjoy a tiki drink and cook their own meat and vegetables, Zodiac offers an experience not found elsewhere in Tacoma.
A stand-alone grill greets you near the door with its warming aura and sizzle. Once food is delivered to your table, mosey over and cook to your liking, drink in hand. It’s the perfect solution to the barbecue-less, the apartment dwellers, the cold and rainy nights, or just for when you feel like grilling your own damn steak in a swanky setting. It’s a nod to mid-century steakhouses of the Midwest, where it “was a blue-collar way of taking your family to steak,” Dana says.
The drink selections are pure classics, and are to be enjoyed with as many friends as possible. Staying true to their tiki roots, boozy punch bowls filled with champagne, sorbet, and an assortment of liquors (just like grandma used to make!) can be shared with four to six people. Use the long straws or get sophisticated with the dippers/cups. Scorpion bowls (with actual adorable scorpions!) are available for the two to four person group.
If shared beverages aren’t your bag, order a French 75, Mai Tai, or a Hamm’s in the can. And naturally, since we’re in the Northwest, there is a range of fine brews and ciders on tap to choose from.
With all of this magic happening in one space, it’s easy to forget that it almost didn’t happen.
In mid-May, with the build-out in full swing, the owners were hit with unexpected permits and costs, eating up a significant portion of their funds. They tried several banks to get the loan they needed to no avail; when at the third bank, a loan officer suggested they try Community Sourced Capital.
“That was a giant gift that landed in our lap,” Dave says.
CSC is a crowd-funding source, but unlike GoFundMe or Kickstarter, where incentives like tee shirts or posters are given to funders, CSC asks participants to provide microloans or “squares” that will be repaid during a given timeframe after the business is up and running. It’s an act of faith from the community to the small business owners that says ‘we want you to succeed.’
The Zodiac team met their $16,000 goal with time to spare. A partner program within CSC matched their squares, which provided them with a zero percent interest loan of $32,000.
“I think Dana said it first, but it is really the most humbling experience. I didn’t know half of the people supporting us, but there were a lot of people who love us. Everyone wants us to succeed,” says Suzanne.
“We’re in Tacoma by choice,” Dana says, “and we love it here. So we wanted to make this work, here.”
The Zodiac Supper Club will be open Tuesday-Sunday, 4 pm to close, starting this Tuesday. Bunny ears are optional.
All photos, except of the sexy lady oil lamp, by Ryan Lowry.