Passatempo Taverna work in August

The new sign for Passatempo Taverna is readied for placement on the front of the old Pastime on Main Street in August.

A bit of tradition ushers in the new this evening as the former Pastime Café officially opens as Passatempo Taverna.

As the crew behind one of Walla Walla’s biggest revivals gathers to open the business, they’ll be joined by a familiar face.

Former Pastime owner Bobby Fazzari will help mark the changeover with owner Mike Martin, CEO Jim German, consulting chef Mike Easton, and head chef Casey Merscher as the neon sign returns to service with a new look.

The iconic sign — restored and slightly remade to reflect the name change — will turn on at 5 p.m. at 215 W. Main St., an address near and dear to local diners still pining for the Pastime’s signature lasagna.

Martin has been clear that his vision for the property he bought in May 2015 has always been respect and preservation. An ode to its Italian roots with nods to the business, from its congenial atmosphere to the general footprint with family dining on the left and the bar on the right. But it is not a replica.

Refreshed and restarted a decade after the building initially was sold and the restaurant closed.

Martin brought in the big guns to help with the transition, courting mixologist and businessman German out of Waitsburg to help with the creation, and Easton, the Seattle restaurateur behind Il Corvo and Pizzeria Gabbiano, to consult on the kitchen and menu.

Speaking of which, spokeswoman Cara Jacobson, who manages the attached wine studio The Walls still under construction, said menu prices range from $5 to nearly $40.

The vision with the roughly 25 employees is a friendly neighborhood gathering place that serves homemade pasta and Italian fare, excellent cocktails and a robust range of wines, including those from The Walls.

Reservations can be made at Hours of operation will be 3 p.m.-midnight, Thursday through Monday with a small plate menu offered 3-5 p.m. and a late-night menu between 10 p.m. and midnight.

For The Walls, the studio is slated to open soon. Tastings in the meantime are offered by appointment or 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturdays at the production facility, 1015 W. Pine St.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at 509-526-8321, or on Twitter at

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