Owner of Proof Gastropub aims to prove Tri-Citians want more than chains
There’s a new restaurant showcasing the Kennewick skyline: Proof Gastropub.
The high-rise eatery on Columbia Center Boulevard features a modern space with upscale bar food and craft cocktails offering fresh twists on old favorites along with the sweeping views.
Mike Miller, who also founded Stick + Stone Neapolitan Wood-Fired Pizza on Duportail Street in Richland, said he was ready to expand and start something new when the 3,300-square-foot space opened at 924 N. Columbia Center Blvd. above Massage Envy and Sound Audiology and Hearing Aids.
It’s about setting yourself apart through the service provided and the food offered.Mike Miller, owner of Proof Gastropub
The 90-seat main dining area, bar, and kitchen are on the third floor of the building with fourth-floor loft offering overflow seating and its own bar in a space that owner/founder Miller plans to make available for private events.
“I wanted to focus on gastro—high-end bar food—and present it in a slightly elevated way, with cool bar space where people can hang out that feels like the big city. I want to provide a different experience,” he said.
And Miller said having to take an elevator or stairs to reach the restaurant is a part of the experience.
LCR Construction of Richland completed $200,000 in renovation work, which was funded by a Small Business Administration loan through Banner Bank, as well as profits from Stick + Stone.
Proof is reminiscent of metropolitan dining experiences in converted industrial space, featuring a mural and selected photography by local artists, as well as floor-to-ceiling windows and a patio on the third floor to take in the views of the city and river.
Great for date nights, catching sports highlights, or grabbing a casual bite during lunch hour or before an Americans’ hockey game, Proof offers a variety of seating options from cozy booth space and regular tables, to high-top tables and bar-side seating.
Customers can take photos of their dining experience, post them on the Instagram photo-sharing application with the hashtag #proofgastropub and collect a printout at the automatic photo print station at the front of the restaurant.
A unique variety of moderately priced items fill the menu, including familiar bar favorites like wings, burgers, finger food appetizers and other handhelds.
But Proof’s kitchen also produces several entrees, featuring choice cuts of salmon and steak. Prices range from $16 to $32.
Miller said this is a part of what sets Proof Gastropub apart from the competition.
“We use higher-end quality products and really invest ourselves in the final product we’re providing,” he said.
Offerings include unique flavors, like truffle fries, creamy bacon and sage potato soup, and the sweet coriander lime vinaigrette that tops the mango and avocado prawn salad.
Miller noted there are a lot of chain restaurants in Tri-Cities.
He said the restaurant’s name Proof is a direct nod to his confidence that the restaurant can overcome the negative stereotype that Tri-Citians have traditionally preferred chains over locally-owned restaurants.
“It’s about setting yourself apart through the service provided and the food offered,” he said.
Miller acknowledged his proximity to the recently-closed Frankenburger’s Fry Lab and Fire & Brimstone Wood-Fired Eatery, which were located next door to his building.
Another local restaurant based out of Richland, Porter’s Real Barbecue, plans to move into the vacant space left by Frankenburger in spring 2018.
“You’ve got to offer something equal or better when you’re across the street from the busiest burger restaurant in town,” said Miller of Red Robin. “We’re focusing on what we do well.”
He said execution, having people in the right place and focusing on the details, makes a difference to new restaurants competing with well-known established eateries.
“You don’t want to just fit in,” he said.
He said they’ve been surprisingly busy, despite having hosted their grand opening on the Friday that kicked off the Christmas holiday weekend. “It’s been nonstop burgers,” he said.
Miller identified Proof’s homemade meatloaf, which features a red wine barbecue sauce, firecracker salmon, and garlic-, lemongrass- and ginger-sautéed Manila clams as signature items.
Proof is still hiring in the kitchen. Miller plans to employ about 25 full- and part-time employees.
Though Miller said he looks forward to cultivating the culture at Proof through relationship-building with new employees and customers, he admitted it’s weird overseeing a new place after the four years he spent developing Stick + Stone.
Miller explained he will eventually oversee both businesses, but in the meantime, his 20-person crew will be manning the ship at Stick + Stone.
“We have a good system in place there and it’s solid,” he said.
In September, Stick + Stone was a part of the UberEats Tri-Cities launch, and Miller said the new service has led to an even greater uptick in sales than he’d originally anticipated.
He said he’s not sure yet if Proof Gastropub will be joining UberEats, but the restaurant’s Facebook page did mention the possibility of takeout service in the future.
For More Information:
To Learn more about Proof Gastropub call 509-820-3321or follow on Facebook and Instagram.