Pacific Pantry’s Pabst plans next phase

On March 31, almost eight years from the day — April 1 — that he opened Pacific Pantry Eatery, owner John Pabst will close its storefront to focus on events and festivals and to spend more time with his family.

“It’s been a pleasure being part of this community for the past eight years … it’s been so supportive,” Pabst said.

He emphasized that Pacific Pantry is very successful — the closure comes from a place of strength — but the success of the eatery, which is known for the locally-sourced ingredients, the quality of the meats and its friendly atmosphere, meant Pabst was not able to spend as much time with his family as he would like.

“It’ll be nice to take a step back and focus on the family,” Pabst said. “I want to make sure I’m there for them.”

Pabst is married with three children, and his parents live in town as well. He said that the festivals and events Pacific Pantry participates in will be “a family thing.”

This summer, he said, “will be tent work” during events such as Lavender Weekend at Jardin du Soleil, and that over the year they will be “building up a food truck to do more festivals,” possibly by next spring or summer.

The family owns the buildings that currently house Pacific Pantry, and Pabst will still be “utilizing this space to prep my events.”

He will also bake full-time for Rebel Heart Coffee Company.

He said he looks forward to having “the freedom to change the menu.”

If the festival is about, for instance, crabs, lavender or razor clams, he will be able to build his menu around them.

“I’m looking forward to that creative process,” he said.

Pacific Pantry pleases

Pabst said that his parents moved to Sequim before he did, and that he chose to come here with hopes of raising a family because of the beauty and small town feel of Sequim and all the local farms.

With a background in cooking beginning in childhood — his parents prioritized good food and friends — Pabst studied in a culinary program in high school and holds a degree from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. He worked in the field from high school on, “mostly in fine dining” he said, concluding with a year in Seattle at Jerry Traunfeld’s Poppy.

Upon moving to Sequim, Pabst was ready to run his own business.

“Business grew and grew … pulling more time from me,” he said.

Pacific Pantry Eatery of Sequim will close the doors of its storefront on March 31 and owner John Pabst will focus the business on festivals and other events. Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen

Pacific Pantry Eatery of Sequim will close the doors of its storefront on March 31 and owner John Pabst will focus the business on festivals and other events. Sequim Gazette photo by Emily Matthiessen

At the Pacific Pantry Café, the menu features sandwiches, pizzas, salad and soup.

“We make all our own meat,” said Pabst. “The idea for the business was originally meat-centric and it morphed.”

He described the change to working only at events as a morph as well, although they have always been a part of the business, and pre-pandemic, a “sizeable portion” of the company’s business model.

“We have been customers since they opened,” patron Michele Jaeger said. “I will miss eating my favorite chicken salad outdoors and grabbing a pizza too. Good customer service and good food!”

She said that she will look for Pacific Pantry at events but “will miss having them in town.”

Said Stacey Sevier, who has been working for Pabst as his only full-time employee for the last seven years, “This by far has been one of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had in my life. It’s a second home.”

Sevier described Pacific Pantry as a place where the staff come in to work and share their lives together as they spread happiness through dedication to service and quality.

“Our motto is, it’s all about the do right,” Sevier said. “You get back what you put in.”

She said that the business grew its customer base mainly through word of mouth and “people we served through the years telling others how amazing our business has been.”

Said Sevier, “I feel that working here you get a reciprocation of love from the community,” noting that talking to customers about the cafe’s closure has been “one of the rough moments.”

Customers have been encouraging, although sorry the cafe is closing, she said.

Sevier said she will be working at “All Weather Heating and Cooling” for Jeanne’ Sparks, a company that is also about the “do right.” She looks forward to serving the community at another good workplace.

“While I will deeply miss this specific iteration of their talents, the folks at Pacific Pantry will continue to build community in so many different ways beyond this deli,” said Jaden Dokken, an artist and cider-brewer whose work is featured and sold at Pacific Pantry.

“Each of them is creative, intelligent, funny, and so very kind, and I am grateful to have had their support not only with my art but also with Two Hooligans Cider. I’ve always loved rolling up to their backyard on my bike, feeling like I’ve just shown up to a friend’s house. From its beginning, Pacific Pantry has been this deliciously collaborative and inclusive space.”

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