The Downside of Seattle's Culinary Empires

Celebrity chef culture throughout the country has resulted in chef driven restaurant empires that can span multiple states, all helmed by one dynamic  culinary force. In Seattle, these empires are run by some of the best, including Tom Douglas, Ethan Stowell, Josh Henderson Renee Erickson and Matt Dillon, to name a few. These chefs each own multiple restaurant concepts and any have plans to open more in the near future. Yet while these culinary empires may excite diners throughout Seattle, they come with a downside as well.

Restaurant owner Garrett Doherty of Kraken Congee explained how the current restaurant industry structure has made him, and others, feel like outsiders. "It's really hard to start a restaurant here," he told Angela Garbes of The Stranger. "There are five chefs who own something like 45 restaurants in this city, and if you're not part of that crew, no one talks to you."

Additionally, developers and financiers often favor established business owners over first timers, thereby limiting aspiring restaurateurs' access to finding and real estate. And finally, there is the argument that with the majority of Seattle's restaurants owned by only several chefs, there is the risk of homogenizing Seattle's restaurant scene. Read More