Food, entertainment and good times at Cove Restaurant in downtown Olympia

The Cove offers seasonal food and a variety of entertainment, keeping visitors coming back for familiar good vibes and fresh new cuisine. Olympic Sotheby’s International Realty highlights broker Justin Helm in a community video about his partners and his investment in the downtown Olympia community. Having celebrated its first year, Cove Restaurant and Bar continues to create a sense of community with its welcoming atmosphere.

The Cove is celebrating its inaugural year in downtown Olympia

Owners Justin Helm, Cody Mills and Jason Gilbertson opened the Cove on October 5, 2022. They had spent time in their younger years patronizing The Royal Lounge and Rhythm & Rye when the previous businesses occupied the same space. When the building became vacant, the Cove partners bought it.

“Cove came from thinking that all three of us have a lot of industry experience on both sides of the bar,” Helm says in the Olympic Sotheby’s video. “We all eat out a lot, and we thought if we could take all the positive experiences we’ve had and remove all the negative experiences we’ve had, we were confident we could put together something that was very appealing, fun and nice to win.”

The result is the upbeat, comfortable, emotional vibe at Cove.

Just two blocks from the waters of Budd Inlet, its casual, clean and modern aesthetic is suitable for stepping straight off the boardwalk in flip-flops or arriving in a sport coat for a special dinner. The open-handed inclusivity extends to the artwork on display. Artwork by a regional photographer adorns the wall, and a treasured piece of Dungeness crab art made by a friend’s daughter hangs above the kitchen.

Celebrating a successful first year in downtown Olympia, Cove Restaurant has a casual atmosphere for watching sports, sharing food and live entertainment. Photo courtesy: Cove

Locally sourced Signature Cove food and drink

Just a few blocks from the Olympia Farmers Market, Cove can feature ingredients sourced from local purveyors and producers.

“Seafood has always been a big part of our experience, so we definitely want to emphasize that on our menus,” says Helm. “Our two favorite signature cocktails are the bourbon and our Old Fashioned. Many of our purees, mixers and ingredients in our cocktails are either purchased from the farmers market or even grown in one of our bartenders’ gardens and made from scratch on site.”

In addition to comfort foods at the Cove’s weekend brunches, seafood is a popular item on the Cove’s menu. Shown here: steamed clams with chorizo. Photo courtesy: Cove

Weekend brunches include comfort foods like chicken and waffles, steak and eggs, and more. Seafood is truly a theme at the Cove with shrimp toast, steamed clams and fish tostadas all on the appetizer menu. Cove signature dishes are the pokey nachos and the crab roll. Shrimp, tuna, and crab also appear in their craft sandwiches and entrees.

Bay for sports, music and entertainment

Gathering to watch a football game on one of the many screens or sitting near the stage for some entertainment also brings people to the Cove.

“It’s fun,” says partner and general manager Jason Gilbertson in the video. “For me and for many people, sport is a part of life. Competition, unity, bringing people together and the atmosphere behind the bar in the restaurant is the same thing. Sometimes you can’t see people unless you meet them in certain places, and sometimes these connecting things bring you closer to people outside these walls. It’s bigger than just sitting down and eating food.”

People sitting at black tables in low light and some at a high bar at the Cove restaurant in Olympia.
Entertainment at the Cove has something for everyone with live bands, a variety of genres and comedy nights. Photo courtesy: Cove

With something for everyone, Cove’s musical lineup spans genres and does so intentionally. Variety comes from solo country acts, rock from the 70s, 80s and 90s, and Olympia native Ethan Tucker, who plays on New Year’s Eve. Cove’s goal is to give everyone a place to play. A monthly jazz night is part of a future plan, and comedy shows have already hit the Cove stage featuring local comedians Sam Miller and Dan Farley.

The Cove’s local community gathering place is expanding

With a planned expansion, the Cove aims to provide 2,000 square feet more space for private parties, class reunions or a place to host local groups. Just across from the kitchen and with a private bar, the Cove event space is designed to be spacious enough for 60 to 75 people or up to 100 for a standing-room-only cocktail party. Sharing Cove’s menu on a larger scale, at a family birthday, business luncheon or holiday celebration makes for good times, and such events aim to carry the culinary and restaurant successes of the first year into the next chapter.

Seasonal cocktails include a vintage sangria and a roasted pumpkin margarita. Soft drinks reflect the seasons in sprinklers and sparklers made from vintage fruits, herbs and ginger beer. Shown here: Cilantro Green Bloody Mary. Photo courtesy: Cove

“We’ve been extremely shocked and grateful over the last year for this little Cove family we’ve been able to create,” says Hjelm. “It’s been a blessing that we’ve made it through this year and the future just looks really bright not only for the staff but for our customers as well.”

If you haven’t been to the Cove yet, stop by on your next trip downtown or to the boardwalk and try some seasonal eats and drinks. To see the latest events and menus, check out the Cove’s Facebook page.


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