Jen Doak: Returning to hometown Newcastle with The Coalman

In the heart of Newcastle stands a restaurant that embodies the essence of togetherness and culinary excellence. The Coalman, helmed by the talented and passionate Jen Doak, is soon to become a beloved gathering place for locals and a testament to the power of community.
Jen’s roots run deep in our community. Growing up in the area long before it became the town it is today, she fondly recalls her childhood spent swimming in Lake Boren and exploring the neighborhood with friends. Back then, the Safeway shopping center housed longhorn cattle, much of the area was undeveloped, and hiking trails led directly into the coal mines.

Jen's journey took her through various educational and professional experiences. After attending Hazelwood Elementary, McKnight Middle School, and Hazen High School, she embarked on her academic path, pursuing Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Washington. Fascinated by the rehabilitation of speech, she worked as a volunteer in nursing homes, but the prospect of medical school did not ignite her passion. Seeking guidance, she visited the career center at Seattle University, where she was advised to follow her heart and explore her passions.

Determined to find her calling, Jen applied for three internships in the hospitality industry, ready to work for free in exchange for an invaluable experience. Her dedication led her to an internship with the Washington Wine Commission, which opened her eyes to the vast and exciting world of wineries in the state.

In 2013, Jen's dream of opening a restaurant came to life when she discovered the perfect location in Ballard. Called Brimmer & Heeltap, craft cocktails took center stage in this vibrant establishment, and patrons were invited to savor delicious food without feeling obligated to spend a fortune. Her passion for creating memorable dining experiences in dynamic communities paved the way for her most recent venture—the establishment of The Coalman.
Returning to Newcastle, a place she knew so well, Jen was shocked by the lack of commercial and dining options in the area. Recognizing the densely populated community's need for a gathering space, she set her sights on filling that void. In June 2023, The Coalman opened its doors, offering a welcoming atmosphere and a menu that showcases the best of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients.

At The Coalman, patrons can indulge in delectable breakfast and lunch items, accompanied by Caffe Umbria coffee—the perfect way to start the day. In the evenings, the menu expands to include carefully crafted dinner options, despite a limited kitchen space. From caviar dip with potato chips to enticing charcuterie boards and fresh brioche delivered daily, every dish at The Coalman reflects Jen's commitment to quality and supporting local farms.

The restaurant's cocktail menu is a testament to Jen's creativity and commitment to scratch-made beverages. From rebellion-inspired morning cocktails to handcrafted concoctions that accompany the evening fare, the libations at The Coalman add an extra touch of sophistication to the dining experience. Did we mention the wine selection? She had to honor her first love of wine here too!

For Jen, returning to Newcastle and witnessing its transformation from a sleepy Renton suburb to a thriving community has been nothing short of amazing. The Coalman, taking over a space that held such significance in the community, now serves as a vital gathering spot, reminiscent of the role Starbucks played in connecting people. Jen considers it an honor to create a new community space, where bonds are forged and memories are made, all through the universal language of food and beverage.

The story of The Coalman and Jen Doak is one of determination, passion, and a deep-rooted belief in the power of community. By providing a welcoming haven for residents and supporting local farms and businesses, The Coalman is soon to become an integral part of Newcastle's fabric—a place where diversity thrives, vitality pulses, and the spirit of togetherness prevails.