Just south of the buzzing small college town atmosphere of Pacific Lutheran University and Garfield Street sits Gateway Cottage. Linda Hogan will have owned the cozy restaurant and lounge for 14 years this November. If you’ve never been there, the workers won’t know your name. But come back once or twice, and they will.
Familiarity makes Gateway Cottage a South Sound staple. Hogan has employees, such as bartender Heather Guthrie, who have worked there since the beginning. Chef Gary Yankey has been at the restaurant for 10 years. Hogan and staff have countless customers they know by name. They keep folks coming back with tasty comfort food, friendly service and a homey atmosphere decorated with finds from Hogan’s days working for the now-closed antique store Corinthian Studios.
Those regulars support Gateway Cottage with more than their patronage. “We have regulars that do lots of things around here. Someone cuts the grass for us. We have a customer who has a key and comes in occasionally to fix leaky pipes and do some handiwork,” Hogan said. People seem to take ownership of this place. There’s even a regular couple who dine at the restaurant every week. When the staff members see them walking to the door, they make sure the couple has their favorite drinks ready and waiting at their regular table.
Gateway Cottage is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and dinner on Saturdays. Expect tasty sandwiches, most of which are less than $10 for lunch. Salads and select entrees also occupy the daytime menu. The dinner menus are heartier and more creative, with items like coconut prawns, an enticing steak selection and well-prepared salmon. You also can find a southern fried chicken dinner and salt crusted roast prime rib on Fridays and Saturdays.
Chef Yankey makes all of his sauces and dressings from scratch. Occasional touches of his Creole and French cuisine influences find their way into the typical Northwest flavorings on Gateway Cottage menus. Hogan and Yankey prefer to operate with a limited menu to help keep things fresh. Customer favorites include the chicken cordon bleu and chicken marsala. Hogan said the restaurant also sells plenty of oysters.
The restaurant is trying to build its catering side of the business. Gateway Cottage is able to host private dinners and event weddings on-site. These types of events provide extra revenue for the restaurant and are perfect for customer referrals. Hogan referenced a catering gig at Nancy LeMay’s house that kept guests at the event coming back for more, even after the event had ended.
Gateway Cottage is Hogan’s first restaurant ownership experience on her own. But she is no stranger to building an icon — she and her ex-husband,
Walter Hogan, opened Stanley & Seafort’s in the early 1970s, which they sold a few years later to current owner Restaurants Unlimited. Gateway Cottage may not have a stunning view of Tacoma, but it probably doesn’t need it. The restaurant has survived in an obscure location for almost a decade and a half, which means there’s something special about the place. If you’re seeking comfort, get away to Gateway Cottage.
When you go:
124 146th St. S., Tacoma
Friday, 11am to 9pm
Saturday 4pm to 9pm.
Open Sunday for special events
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