Marcy’s Bar & Lounge in downtown Walla Walla has been sold to local chef Nate Snider, who said he has big plans for the restaurant.
“We have a lot of ideas on how to make this space even better,” Snider said as he looked at the outdoor patio. “There’s a lot of work to do.”
In the corner of the outdoor patio is a shell of a stage that was once used for live performances. Snider said he plans to bring back live music, which is one aspect of the restaurant that he said sets Marcy’s apart from other eateries in the area.
“One way or another we are going to bring back live music,” he said. “I think that is what everyone in town really wants to hear.”
Ever since the pandemic closed countless restaurants, businesses and other entertainment venues, Snider said there has been a longing for things to do in Walla Walla.
“Everybody wants a place to dance,” Snider said. “We need somewhere where people can have fun.”
Passing the torch
Chad and Jessi Waldher, former owners and operators of the restaurant, agreed that they could not think of a better buyer for Marcy’s.
Chad Waldher grew up in the Walla Walla Valley until he moved away with his family. Later, he met his wife, and the couple have been living on the west side of the state. They also operate Kirkland-based restaurants Feast and Bottle & Bull.
Snider worked as both a sous chef and executive chef at Bottle & Bull, and Waldher said he has known him for years.
As Walla Walla’s industry bar, Marcy’s has afterwork hours. Most days it opens at 5 p.m. and closes at midnight.
“We really wanted to offer a place for people to go to after they got done with a long day at work,” Jessi Waldher said. “After restaurants or wineries close, people could come here. We wanted to create a place that everyone could come to, and everyone could feel welcome.”
She said they decided to sell Marcy’s because they have two young kids and don’t have time to devote to the business.
“We were making it over here less and less,” she said. “We were not able to be the owners here that we wanted to be. We have such a fantastic team here, and we wanted to do right by them.”
The couple said when Snider announced that he would be moving back to his hometown of Walla Walla, it was perfect timing.
“We knew that we could pass the torch off to Nate,” Chad Waldher said. “There is no better person who could be taking the helm at Marcy’s.”
Changes on the horizon
Marcy’s Bar and Lounge consists of a well-stocked and organized back bar, shaded patio, elevated pub dining area and outdoor fire pit.
The outdoor patio offers a sort of oasis for those who wish to visit downtown Walla Walla without a view of traffic. Trees bring shade and the outdoor greenery makes it a serene place to enjoy a meal or a drink.
For Snider, running his own restaurant in the town where he was born and raised is a sort of homecoming. He went to Walla Walla High School and did his apprenticeship at the Marcus Whitman.
“I always knew that I wanted to come back to my roots,” he said. “I want to cook for the people, and I understand how important the idea of local is to people in the Valley.”
Snider said a few things on the menu will change as he figures out what Walla Walla residents and visitors are eating.
“I don’t think the menu will be set in stone anytime soon,” he said. “The food will be fluid, though, with seasonal dishes that evolve over the course of the year.”
He said he plans to source most ingredients, including produce from local farms, to create food that is approachable with a decent price point.
“We want to create a menu with items on it that stay forever,” Snider said. “Our goal is to keep with our core audience, which is sort of a gastropub which has food that is similar quality to a restaurant.”
For Snider, combining his skills as a leader both in and out of the kitchen are what he says will make Marcy’s a great addition to the dining scene in Walla Walla.
“You have to be dedicated and passionate about cooking,” Snider said. “You have to be present and focused and make sure that everyone is not behind you, but be with you, as we move forward.”