The current downtown Snoqualmie improvement project is an effort to remember our town’s history while bringing its historic core to life again. That is exactly what Woodman Lodge owner, Peter La Haye, did with the historic building that is now the Woodman Lodge Steakhouse and Saloon. The restaurant is competing for “Best Steakhouse” in King 5’s 2010 “Best of Western Washington” contest. It is currently in first place against competitors like The Metropolitan Grill, Daniels, El Gaucho, and Jak’s.
The Woodman Lodge is a business anchor for historic Snoqualmie. It draws patrons from all over the Eastside – and the country. In fact, Peter says the acclaimed restaurant is thriving even while only drawing 5% of its business from Snoqualmie Ridge – home to the bulk of Snoqualmie’s population. Quite a feat in the restaurant business and speaks volumes for the caliber of the restaurant.
Woodman Lodge guests experience an incredible menu featuring items like the favorite Cowboy Steak, weekend-only house Prime Rib, and Tuesday’s All-You-Can-Eat baby-back ribs. Chef Don Hoots and staff scratch make the majority of menu items…. all the way down to the daily soups and blue cheese dressing. Fresh steak meat is brought in from first-class cattle ranches and hand-cut on site. Very little is wasted. Even leftover steak cuts are used for appetizers and hamburgers.
The Lodge’s upstairs caters to banquets and large groups. During last week’s tour I watched banquet manager, Cassandra Coleman, ready the room for six large parties including a 25- person wedding rehearsal dinner. It was educational to watch the behind the scenes work required for a busy Friday restaurant night. Definitely a great space for a big family dinner….
When first entering the 108 year-old Woodman Lodge you might think, “What a great restoration job.” That was my first thought until interviewing Peter. It turns out the interior was a complete gut job. The exterior was salvageable, but due to the building’s age and condition it was completely re-engineered to meet modern restaurant-use building codes. Peter did such a meticulous job restoring the exterior and re-creating the historical interior that The Woodman Lodge earned restoration awards from the city, county and state.
The building was originally a 1902 Modern Woodsmen of America Camp 8630. In the early 1900’s life insurance was non-existent and most area jobs came with high mortality rates. The Modern Woodsmen Fraternal Organization started as a way to care for the families of fallen Woodsmen brothers. Quite fitting that Modern Woodsmen is now one of the world’s largest life insurance companies. Camp 8630 (each Lodge was given a camp number) was sold in 1972 and became retail space until Peter’s 2006 building purchase.
The interior of the Woodman Lodge is a step back in time. No detail was missed. The bar, modeled after a history book 1903 saloon bar photo, was constructed in northern California. 35lb solid brass eagle talons support its zinc top. Even the beer taps were hand-crafted in Europe to match the era design. The antique “Prosperity” stove took two years to find. Eagles flank its sides – symbols of the Woodsmen of America. The coal stove was converted to natural gas – turns out the conversion cost more than the stove itself. The grand staircase’s hand-crafted iron work mirrors tree branches. Above the staircase hangs a beautiful, gold-plated, leaded crystal chandelier. At the foot of the staircase sits a 1911 player-piano which is now musician-ready or run by an iPod if needed. Old growth, Canadian-harvested douglas fir timber flank the table tops and the floors. There are even real gas lamps lining the walls. Nothing was overlooked in an effort to hold the Lodge’s interior true to its historic exterior and match the quality of the restaurant’s menu.
What began for Peter La Haye as a trip to Snoqualmie to see his sister morphed into a two-year historic building renovation and successful restaurant opening. This steakhouse has it all… history, ambiance, charm and most importantly – incredible food and wine. What a great addition to the Snoqualmie Valley!
You can still vote for Woodman Lodge as Best Steakhouse in the “Best of Western Washington” contest. Voting closes October 10th. Snoqualmie is sitting on a great PR opportunity so cast your vote! Click the link on livingsnoqualmie.com home page and vote for our Woodman Lodge.