May 13, 2024
This Issues Topics:
2024 • Business Connections • Centralia • Chehalis • May
The Shire Bar & Bistro’s owner Joel Wall, left, stands next to one of The Shire’s original employees, Chris Bruce, and bartender Lacey Heaton in February 2023. Wall and Bruce co-own The Branch Bar & Public Room in Centralia.

Photo by Owen Sexton for The Chronicle

By Emily Fitzgerald
For the C-C Chamber of Commerce

Despite opening over a decade apart in separate cities, The Shire Bar & Bistro in Chehalis and The Branch Bar & Public Room have much in common: excellent chefs, a commitment to fine dining, and a shared owner. 

Joel Wall opened The Shire in the former Guido’s location in 2002.

 “Back then, there weren’t as many smaller, independent restaurants. That’s kind of grown a bit over the last 20 years,” Wall said. The business initially hosted live music performances, benefits, comedy shows and other forms of live entertainment while Wall and his team worked on some unfinished spaces in the building. “But over the years, we just kind of decided to focus more on the restaurant,” Wall said. “It’s just a small, neighborhood place that has a longstanding following in the community.”

The Shire has become deeply integrated into downtown Chehalis over the years, Wall said. “All of a sudden, we find ourselves here 21 years later and it’s still going strong,” he said.

Much of that success has been thanks to The Shire’s chef, Robert Lamore, who has been with the business since the beginning. Another longtime Shire employee, Chris Bruce, became Wall’s business partner in The Branch when that opportunity presented itself in 2016. The owner of the Centralia Square Ballroom, where The Branch is now located, had approached Wall about possibly putting a restaurant into that space, 

Wall said. “He talked to me and, over time, we just kind of made that restaurant happen,” he said. “That’s a neat spot, you know, being just down from the college. We get a lot of locals, but also a lot of out of town guests.”

Unlike The Shire, which is open for lunch and dinner, The Branch is only open for dinner. Chef Anthony Eckerson heads The Branch’s kitchen and focuses on elevating simple, classic Dishes. “He’s an incredibly knowledgeable, skillful chef, and … the things that he does are really incredible,” Wall said. Both The Shire and The Branch as “scratch kitchens,” meaning the businesses do their own shopping and make everything from scratch. “Both are unique restaurants to the area, so we enjoy them a lot. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s well worth it,” Wall said.


The Shire, located at 465 Northwest Chehalis Avenue in Chehalis, is open 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday.


The Branch, located at 202 West Centralia College Boulevard in Centralia, is open 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.