Update, Jan. 6, 2023: According to local media and an announcement on its website, The Splintered Wand has closed. And we never got a chance to try it!
Update, Oct. 25, 2021: The Splintered Wand posted on its Facebook page that reservations were open, and people were soon commenting that they seemed to be all full. This place has inspired such interest and demand! Stay tuned.
ORIGINAL STORY (Sept. 30, 2019): Local wizards Geoffrey and Widow Balch would like to make one thing clear: There are no muggles in Ballard, only inexperienced wizards. “Most people don’t realize that the day you blew out your first birthday candles, you cast your first spell. There’s magic in everyone.” That’s where The Splintered Wand comes in.
The Splintered Wand, a magical pub and wand store, opens at 5135 Ballard Avenue this fall. Walk through the Dutch door on 20th Avenue Northwest and step into a salon where you may find an 8-year-old Harry Potter fan being fitted for his first wand, or a 300-year-old witch (no need to gender your magical identity, says Geoffrey), recalling the day he captured the Ballard Sea Monster. Don’t believe him? Look up. The Monster’s skeleton hangs among flickering chandeliers over the first floor.
Grab an oak pub table and let a server (hired for hospitality and theatricality) deliver tavern-style comfort food: stuffed Yorkshire puddings, skewers of meat and vegetables, or macaroni and cheese. The alchemist behind the bar concocts potions with the aid of Boreas, the North Wind, who lives in the bar and chills elixirs for patrons of all ages. “Just about anything we offer that’s alcoholic can also be offered non-alcoholic, so that everyone can feel involved, including kids,” Geoffrey says.
PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON
The Splintered Wand is a new addition to Ballard Avenue.
The wand shop occupies the second floor. Wandmakers use an astrological chart to select one of 13 sustainably grown North American woods, hand-turned by artisans in Maine. The customer casts a spell over glowing pots of alabastron, or magical material, to determine which substance will “choose them” and become their wand core.
Wands cost $30 and take about 10 minutes to complete. While no formalized licensing program exists in the United States, witches and wizards are asked to use their wands responsibly. It’s all fun and games until someone loses a third eye!
Magic lives in every corner of The Splintered Wand. Stop by on rainy afternoons for story time with the Widow Balch, known in some circles by her alias, Andrea Ravnholm. Drop a note to the trolls who live in the crow-themed third floor Euphorium, or stop by on date night when the planets are aligned for a Tarot reading under jewel-toned hanging lanterns.
“The whole place is built for everyone,” the Widow Balch says. “Our goal is to make everybody feel comfortable.” In a neighborhood rife with third places and niche boutiques, The Splintered Wand promises to be a unique immersive experience designed to transport people of all ages who are in search of a little magic.
Follow Piscataqua & Balch on Facebook for updates on opening day and upcoming events. Accepts most major forms of payment as well as Elvish gold, at goblin market exchange rate.