Well, you’ve surely noticed that large, rectangular, brick building at the corner of Marshall and Railroad. When I was a little kid, Fred Billingsley operated a dry-cleaning business there, but I suspect most people over 65 remember him best as a guitarist and banjo player with local bands at various grange dance halls around the region. After I left town for parts unknown, Fred sold the business to someone else and people tell me it was still a working laundry well into the 1990s. But it eventually closed and stood empty for at least 20 years.
Then, in 2013, John and Wendy Santamaria bought the place. (Yeah, you read that correctly; their name is the same as the Pilgrim’s boat.) John spent his childhood in California, then moved to Bothell, where he spent his young adult years. That’s where he met Wendy, they fell madly in love, married, and moved to Ravensdale, where they presently reside.
For the last four years, they’ve been tearing the old building apart, right down to the dirt and cement foundation, while reinforcing the walls and ceiling. Then they purchased 16 stainless steel vats and, believe it or not, they opened Headworks Brewery, “Home of Hand Crafted Ales.” (They don’t currently offer any lager.)
One afternoon a few weeks ago, I sat down with them and their son, Gino, and delved into a few details about their business. Apparently, John isn’t especially knowledgeable or involved in the chemistry of brewing, leaving most of that to Gino. He currently offers a dozen different kinds of ales, which a menu delightfully describes in illustrious language that is far beyond the limits of my feeble palate. For example, there’s an Amazillo Imperial Pale that has a “malty, medium body with hints of fruitiness, strong floral notes and a smooth, warm finish.” … Really? Then there’s the Brown Town Ale that boasts an “unfiltered haze and medium body lend to nutty and toasted caramel flavors” — not that my taste buds can detect — and “finishes balanced and dry.” I mean, what the hell does that mean?
Whatever. I can assure you they serve some damned fine, wonderfully tasty beer.
Gino said the alcohol strength (proof) of his different concoctions varies from 4 percent to 11 percent. He tries to offer at least one new flavor every month. All the brews cost six dollars for a 16-ounce glass, except for the two strongest Imperials.
It’s a very large, spacious, fresh air atmosphere with tables and chairs scattered hither and yon. On the nights I’ve been there, the crowd was composed mostly of married or closely committed couples who were happy, friendly and engaged in light, pleasant conversations without the distraction of loud music, boisterous drunks or iPhones. Families brought their small children who, except for the bar, were free to wander about the place.
Though you could hardly call Headworks a first-class restaurant, even by Enumclaw standards, it offers a few sandwiches, soft pretzels and cheese dip along with soft drinks like cider and sodas. John encourages customers to bring their own sandwiches and pizzas, which is happening with increasing regularity.
Headworks is open every afternoon at 2 o’clock and closes weeknights around 9. Friday and Saturday evenings it’s open until 10.
My friends, you should check it out. Bring the family and sit down with a pizza and a “light malt, herbal Pilsner with a clean, dry finish.”