Author: Shari Shephard | Photo: Jake Campbell
Located 45 miles northeast of Seattle in the heart of Sky River Valley just off HWY 2, Timber Monster Brewing Company is more to the community of Sultan than a place to eat and drink. The brewery supplies locals, tourists, and Seattleites itching for something a little more homey with comprehensive eats while treating each visitor to something even more sought after: an unencumbered connection with the people around them.
There’s no wifi once you walk through the doors but no one’s complaining. As Brandi Varnell, co-owner with husband Mike Varnell proudly points out, “I don’t see a single person on their cell phone. I don’t see one person with their head down. Everyone is just talking and laughing.”
Come for the food, Stay for the atmosphere
Scenic but long, it’s nice to find a place to have a sit down meal along HWY 2. Timber Monster is the place to break for a warm meal and a belly-warming brew of coffee or beer if you’re headed to Stevens Pass, or if you’re not quite ready to return to city-life after a trip down the slopes.
Timber Monster was a coffee stand before Mike and Brandi transformed the old Bank of America building downtown into the eatery and community hub it is today. For that reason, it feels more like a historic destination than a restaurant that opened just nine months ago. The walls are lined with mugs belonging to their most regular and most avid customers who get to use their very own Timber Monster mug whenever they return.
To the Varnell’s, the patrons and staff of Timber Monster are like family, and often times, they are family. Many of their adult children take part in the everyday operations of the business and several of Brandi’s former highschool students (yep, Brandi is a teacher by day and a multi-tasking restaurateur by night) have worked at Timber Monster after graduating. Both Brandi and Mike play active roles in the community outside of the hours they spend with their customers.
Something for everyone
Perhaps because the Varnells raised six kids of their own, they created a menu that is intuitively family-friendly. There’s something for everyone on their list of coffee and beer brews (try their flagship Blood Orange Blonde), child friendly mac’n’cheese and pizza plates, and health conscious kombucha and quinoa offerings. There’s also something distinctly northwest about their elk burger and chili dishes.
For the ones that stay in Sultan long enough, there’s ample opportunity to discover some of the most beautiful scenic hiking, fishing, and hunting in the Pacific Northwest. Sultan sits along the banks of Sky River Valley’s namesake, the Skykomish River, where they celebrate the return of the salmon every year with a festival that highlights the community’s relationship with the river and regional history.
Plenty of out of towners come through Timber Monster, but the Wednesday night open mics, twice monthly vinyl nights, weekend breakfasts that feature seasonal treats like Eggnog French Toast and Gingerbread Pancakes, and Thursday night trivia draw locals from all around Seattle NorthCountry. At Timber Monster you’ll disconnect from your screen and then reconnect with the world around you.