After moving his flagship concept, Lark, into a new space a few blocks away from its original home in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Chef John Sundstrom transformed Lark’s old location—a rustic, sophisticated dining space—into Southpaw, a 50-seat pizza shop with a punchy vibe. In the transition, Sundstrom traded Lark’s flowing curtains, white tablecloths, and tableside candles for original, old-time boxing-themed graphic artwork, big-screen televisions, and a vibrant gray, black, and yellow color scheme. He also removed two-thirds of the front windows in favor of rolling garage doors with counter-height seating, a decision that has provided Southpaw added presence and visibility on the well-trafficked 12th Avenue.
“We made Southpaw much more casual and approachable, but still something different than the norm,” Sundstrom says of the 1,700-square-foot restaurant, which debuted in December 2016.
With Lark’s new space demanding much of Sundstrom’s financial attention, Sundstrom embraced creative reuse at Southpaw, which already possessed big timber beams and a weathered wooden floor, for big splashes of character. He repurposed wood banquettes, tables, and chairs, painting the dark-wood furniture gray and yellow to fit the new color scheme; reconstructed Lark’s custom-made tables to be barstool height; searched out historic boxing posters as compelling visual elements; and used chalkboard paint to communicate daily specials.
“Compared to Lark, Southpaw has a more lived-in feel, and people have been overwhelmingly positive about the space,” Sundstrom says.