Why Seattle’s Restaurant Boom is Making Local Chefs Nervous

Why Seattle’s Restaurant Boom is Making Local Chefs Nervous

Seattle isn’t only the home of some of the best coffee shops in the country, but now more chefs are flocking to the city. 

In a month and a half in the summer, 40 new restaurants opened. In the first quarter of 2017, Seattle had 2,696 restaurants, which is a 25% increase from a decade ago, according to the Department of Revenue.

Not to mention, the majority of the restaurants stick it out their first year. 87% of restaurants survive in the city within the first year. 

But that doesn’t mean that even the most renowned chefs don’t struggle in the city and aren't nervous about what the future holds for Seattle's culinary landscape. 

James Beard Award-winning chef Maria Hines’ Ballard restaurant, Golden Beetle. It served all-organic, adventurous takes on Mediterranean food, but the neighborhood balked at paying more for a gyro. “My heart aches,” she said upon changing the place to a family-friendly, conceptually easy-to-swallow gastropub earlier this year. But she still couldn’t get out from under the debt. Hines closed Golden Beetle this spring to concentrate on her other two restaurants, Tilth and Agrodolce,” writes "The Seattle Times."

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Cocktails with a Philosophical Undertone at Naka Kaiseki

When you work in a creative business, figuring out what inspires you — and tapping into those channels on a regular basis — is essential to continuously innovate. Behind the bar, juices must (figuratively) flow in order to concoct new creations for your beverage menu. 

At Naka Kaiseki in Seattle, bartender Nik Virrey admits that diving intensely into a given subject is what sparks his brain. Now, mix that with philosophical undertones and an understanding of flavor profiles and balance. In this sneak peek, brought to you by the Foodable WebTV Network, get a glimpse of how Naka’s bar operates.

A Look Inside the Pasta Program at Seattle's Spinasse

Spinasse is a nearly 8-year-old restaurant that specializes in traditional Northern Italian cuisine. And Chef Stuart Lane seems to be a perfect fit, given his background.

His hunger and curiosity for more led him to Italy, where he attended the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners. “It was really influential,” he says. “It was also the food culture — just the way they [Italians] go about thinking about food in general really stuck with me.”

In this “Table 42” vignette, Chef Lane dishes on the Seattle culinary scene and takes us into the kitchen to whip up one of his favorite dishes on the menu, Agnolotti dal Plin. 

Mamnoon Restaurant an Ode to Lebanese, Syrian, Persian Cuisines

In Arabic, Mamnoon translates to “thankful” or “grateful.” In Seattle, it’s an establishment in Melrose Square that explores the intersection of Lebanese, Syrian, and Persian cuisines, an ode to the heritage of co-owners Racha and Wassef Haroun.

In this “Table 42” vignette, Chef Jason Stratton shows us how the restaurant makes its carrot beet tahini, a slight play on traditional hummus where the chickpea base is substituted by carrots from a local farmers market. 

“There’s such a tradition of community. Eating as a social thing is very important,” says Stratton. He adds that this mentality is picking up more and more in the U.S. “Americans are kind of more reverential of sitting around the table together and breaking bread.”

Stratton hopes that when guests visit Mamnoon, they have an experience that opens their eyes to what Middle Eastern food is all about. “That feeling of discovery is really exciting for the staff, as well,” he says. “And I think it’s something the guests are really responding to.”

Seattle's Brimmer & Heeltap Offers Ecclectic, Neighborhood Dining

In this “Table 42” vignette, we join Seattle's Mike Whisenhunt in his space and in the kitchen, where he shows us how to make Brimmer & Heeltap’s grilled pork shoulder steak (with Boston butt pork shoulder, brined in sugar, salt, chili powder, all spice, Baileys, thyme, and garlic) and steak tartare. 

Whisenhunt has traveled to various other parts of the country, but says he’s never felt at home anywhere else. And, in part, the same sentiment is given about his guests.

“I want people to walk away having a great time and feeling that this is their escape from their home or from work or wherever, and we want them to feel like part of the family here.”