Converted from a 1950s-era Quonset hut previously housing a hardware store, Lumberyard Food Hall in Pullman upends the old food court stereotype with a combination of rustic comfort and modern convenience.
Strings of cafe lights dangle overhead and the South Fork of the Palouse River rolls past as the evening patio crowd settles into summer over burgers and beers. Inside, six different dining vendors line the walls in stalls made out of brightly colored shipping containers. Two bars pour regional beers and craft cocktails. An arcade area and meeting space fill out another back corner.
General manager Jenny Finau says Lumberyard strives for quality casual food, from fried chicken to Cuban cuisine to pizza and salads. Diners can self-order from across all six menus at touchscreen kiosks and seat themselves at massive communal tables.
"It was important to us to try to create something unique," Finau says. "We really want to bring people together."
Heavy timber beams and flooring salvaged from the building's renovation give Lumberyard a warmth that complements the metal shipping containers and other industrial touches. Antique chainsaws and circular mill blades adorn the walls. The arched ceiling leaves plenty of headroom above the open layout.
Six dining concepts operate under the Lumberyard banner: Jenny's Chicken Shack, Grand Ave. Gourmet Burgers, La Isla Cuban Cuisine, the Whole Pizza/Whole Yard salads, (509) Coffee and Scoops ice cream parlor.
So far, Finau says, the burgers ($12-$13) have proven the most popular, but the fried chicken ($13) holds a solid second place. The salads ($9) and personal pizzas ($9) give diners the option of customizing to fit dietary restrictions.
Finau says ordering through the kiosks can be an adjustment for some diners, noting dishes from different vendors often arrive at staggered times. But all the menus prioritize regional ingredients and scratch-made fare.
"If we can make it in-house we do," she says.
Developer and owner Greg Petry, who grew up in Pullman, says it took about three years to overhaul the building and finalize the operations for its November 2018 opening. He says he wants the large space to have the flexibility to meet many different needs.
"Ideally, we were trying to appeal to as many people as possible," he says. "We want to be an asset to the community."
The communal tables accommodate large groups for football weekends or company parties. The arcade area has several video game machines and shuffleboard. One corner has a playground set with slides for young children, while another larger play center has started going up outside.
The building also houses a guest suite for events or overnight Airbnb rentals. Across the patio sits a second building for live performances and a historic wellhouse with more seating.
Petry says he's proud of how the food hall has come together, noting the project hired all local contractors and vendors.
"My hope is that people can appreciate the complexity of this project," he says, "and how many local people had their hands involved to create such a beautiful space."
The venue's versatility allows it to host a wide variety of events. A summer concert series featuring regional musicians is planned for every Friday at 7 pm from June through September. Finau says the Lumberyard can also show movies, bring in comedians or cater private events.
"We're really excited about that," she says.
On a recent weekend, college students and visitors shoulder in to listen to a singer out on the patio. Kids scramble up and down on the indoor playset while parents sip beer nearby. Others share pizza or plug quarters into arcade games.
"We have been so well embraced," Finau says. "I think Pullman has been really hungry for something like this." ♦
Lumberyard Food Hall • 305 N. Grand Ave., Pullman • Open Sun-Thu 11 am-9 pm, Fri-Sat 11 am-11 pm • lumberyardfoodhall.com • 339-6994