Toasted: Where everybody knows your name
Last updated 1/4/2018 at Noon
Hair stylists are often trusted with intimate family secrets and insider business tips from their clients. So it was natural for Heather Gilbo to expand on her unofficial role as a counselor when she considered opening a second business in Mill Creek Town Center.
If stylists can double as therapists, then it was clear that Heather’s next business venture would take advantage of her ability to make people feel welcome and comfortable.
She became a bartender.
“It seemed like the natural evolution of my personal journey,” said the bright-eyed Mukilteo native. “We opened Toasted a little earlier than we had planned, so locals and holiday shoppers could experience my vision of a neighborhood bar with comfort food.”
The Toasted Bar & Grill on Main Street occupies the space across the street from China City in what used be an indoor tanning facility. Gilbo also owns and operates The Salon at Mill Creek Town Center, two blocks down the street.
“My first salon was in a greenhouse in the backyard behind my house in Mukilteo,” Gilbo said with her patented smile. “It’s hard to duplicate the intimate feeling of that small space, but I want the people who come to Toasted to be as comfortable as the guests in that greenhouse.”
There are no diplomas on walls of her restaurant or her salon, but the business owner employs the same interpersonal skills and compassionate philosophy in both locations.
“The businesses may seem different, but they are really very much the same,” she said. “We want people to feel comfortable, enjoy the time they spend with us, and leave feeling better than when they walked through the door.”
Gilbo enjoys the role she plays as the connection that brings people back to Mill Creek Town Center. She also appreciates the trust people have shown through their loyalty to her salon and by sharing their personal insights.
Like many stylists and bartenders, she listens to stories and personal dramas, and accepts the responsibility that comes along with the tidbits of insider information.
Some of her clients from The Salon describe Heather as the “sounding board” for the community and a reflection of the people who shop and live near Town Center.
“It’s amazing that our community is growing in such a positive way. It’s like a family,” one client told The Beacon. “It is businesses and business owners like Heather who keep our family close and strong. Heather has been a positive reflection of the many different people in our community.”
The owner of two businesses in Town Center was slightly more humble regarding her abilities.
“I suppose I could have gotten rich by now if I had used some of the financial advice that clients have shared over the years,” she said with a laugh. “I treasure the trust people have given me when they are seated in my chair or on a stool at the bar.”
Toasted features wide screen televisions with sports, some specialty cocktails, and variations on Heather’s favorite comfort food, the grilled cheese sandwich. In addition to the classic sandwich with cheddar, the menu lists sandwiches with French Gruyere with ham, a Dungeness Crab sandwich with pepper jack cheese and a shrimp Po Boy.
The owner wants her establishment to have the feel of a neighborhood diner. To accomplish that goal she urged her kitchen staff to announce “Order Up” when a meal is ready to be delivered.
Her mind never stops coming up with new ideas. Gilbo hopes she can add live music to the evening fare at Toasted later this year.
Her other goal for 2018 is more personal.
“I’ve never been married, and I don’t have any kids yet,” she said. “But I’m hoping that I’ll have time to change that this year, too.”