When you drive into Homeskillet’s parking lot, you immediately know that it is a unique place. The outside walls of the tiny restaurant are painted in bright colors. Decorative frying pans hang from the posts of the Mimosa Garden, also known as the Sunnyland Social Club. Inside it is colorful, crowded and loud. Not only is the interior busy, but people gather outside waiting for a table. The wait is worth it.
Homeskillet, located in Bellingham’s Sunnyland neighborhood, has a reputation for delicious food and a quirky atmosphere. It is best known for its breakfast menu but also serves lunch. The restaurant was opened in May of 2012 by owners Kirby and Tina White. The pair met while cooking in
The pair met while cooking in Antarctica but eventually settled in Bellingham. Kirby is a Western Washington University alumnus and Tina used to live in Seattle, so the transition was easy for them. Before they opened Homeskillet, Tina was a scrimshander, a bone and ivory carver, and Kirby was an independent contractor, but both had worked as cooks on and off for decades. When the building’s previous owner retired, they asked about the space and eventually bought it.
As anyone who has ever been to Homeskillet knows, the menu is wonderfully unique. “Well,” Tina says, “let’s just say that if your friends use the phrase ‘shut up’ when you describe a food idea… you’re onto something.” One of the classic favorites is a Pulled Pork Tater Tot Hash & Eggs which, just like it sounds, combines tater tots and pulled pork into one mouthwatering plate with a side of eggs. Other top choices include The Meaty Veggie Skillet, The Barnyard, Homemade Corned Beef Hash & Eggs, and Hot Green Mess.
All of these unique dishes are made by one man: Kirby. Tina calls him “the real heart and soul of the place.” The wait outside is always so long in part because there is only one cook and also because of the restaurant’s small size. Due to limited space, they cannot seat parties larger than four.
It might take some time for a table to free up, but while you wait, you can get a drink from the Mimosa Garden, talk to your friends or meet new people, and enjoy the artwork outside. Most of the art is done by Tina herself, who loves to find any excuse to do art. Various friends, all of whom live in Sunnyland, also contributed.
One interesting piece of artwork that you can find on Homeskillet’s property is a large, colorful sculpture of a chicken, dubbed “Velveeta Jones.” Tina got the inspiration for Velveeta on a trip to Burning Man, where she was impressed with the size of the art. As a scrimshander, she was used to working on a much smaller scale and she wanted to give something bigger a try. Out of it came Velveeta. Velveeta is covered in patches, each displaying bright colors, patterns, symbols, peace signs, quotes, or little phrases such as “Be kind” and “Go green” that perfectly capture Bellingham’s essence.
The inside is just as bright and fun. It is colorful and various knickknacks, gathered from world travels, customers and countless other places, line the walls. Walking into the bathroom, you are met with yet another surprise: the walls are covered in pictures of clowns.
No matter how you feel about clowns, you cannot deny that simply being inside the restaurant has the power to cheer a person up. The combination of comfort food and good company makes it so that sometimes people forget that they are even in a restaurant. Instead, they feel as though they have been eating brunch at a friend’s house. Homeskillet has positive reviews on Zagat, Yelp and Trip Advisor and a segment on King 5’s Evening Magazine, but it is also a small neighborhood place where people can feel at home.
“Homeskillet is not for everyone,” Tina explains. “It’s loud, raunchy, chaotic and cramped. But it’s us, no formula or business plan. People like it here because people actually talk to one another, connect with one another, share their dishes with strangers or pay for the meal of someone they just met that they had a great conversation with. In the ‘connected’ world of social media, nothing satisfies like a real live connection. We knew people are hungry, not just for honest food, but real human connection. We had no idea it would blow up like it did.”
Homeskillet is a place where you can strike up a conversation with the person seated next to you and end up making a great friend. It is a bright place where you can escape the cloudy, gray weather, eat some quality food and really connect to the people around you.