On a sunny day sitting at the bar at Salty’s at Redondo, you can see across the water to the mountains.
The view is beautiful, but the cocktails might be better.
Tawna Gogolin, who was recently named the best bartender in the Mirror’s Best of Federal Way competition, started working as a bartender in Hawaii in 1988, but she’s been with Salty’s now for 22 years.
She started as a server in the restaurant business, and moved into bartending after seeing how much fun it looked.
“It just looked fun,” she said. “I liked the fast-paced work.”
Gogolin works as the bar manager at Salty’s, so she creates the menu and chooses the wine list. Salty’s cocktail list is a little different than what you might find at other restaurants or bars.
They like to make up their own drinks, Gogolin said, one of the most popular being a Huckleberry Lemon Drop. That was one of the specialty drinks they had for Valentine’s Day, another being a Rose Martini.
One of Gogolin’s favorite things about Salty’s is her regulars.
“They’re a great group, we’re friends outside of work,” she said.
Gogolin is excited about being nominated for Best Bartender, but said it’s hard to vote for anyone from Salty’s because she works with such a great group of people.
“I’m proud to work here.”
Despite technically being located in Des Moines, that doesn’t stop it from being nominated for Best of Federal Way each year.
This year, Salty’s received six total nominations for best bartender, best server, best seafood, best lunch place, best buffet place and best brunch place.
Erin Keeley, who was named best waiter, keeps the Salty’s nominations going with her best waiter nomination for 2019.
Keeley has been a server at Salty’s for six of the last 12 years she’s worked in the food business.
She said she’s part of the low percentage of people who genuinely enjoy what they do for a living.
Her first serving job was at a sandwich shop in Sumner, but she really fell in love with the work after she started at The Rock in Federal Way.
“Running around, making cocktails, and slingin’ pizzas and beers was an absolute blast,” she said.
She wound up at Salty’s after wanting to take a step into more fine dining, and it’s been her home ever since.
“I love the views, the guests, and the team I get to work with on a regular basis.” Keeley said. “I think our motto says it all. ‘A Happy Guest is our Success.’”
Keeley is ecstatic at her 2019 nomination.
“It just means that I’m truly making a difference in others’ days and that’s what I strive for.”
At Salty’s, Keeley does a little bit of everything.
She bartends, serves and manages throughout the week.
She says she enjoys her all-over schedule because it keeps things fresh and helps her continue to learn and grow.
“Knowledge is key to growing, and I feel that there’s always room for growth.”