The recent economic discomfort has spelled trouble for several local restaurants (a precarious industry even in good times). Among the recent casualties are the following:
Avenue One, Arnie Millan's fancy-schmancy place-to-be-seen in what had been Seattle's first mortuary on First Avenue (one of several adjoining buildings owned by ex-City Attorney Mark Sidran and wife Anais Winant), called it quits on September 6. The four-year-old place reflected the showmanship style of Millan, who'd made his fortune in Mississippi riverboat casinos. Its plush, dark interior, reminiscent of the New Orleans of Anne Rice's novels, was highlighted by red velvet curtains, a big chandelier, and a mural of a Parisian street scene that happened to include a Space Needle and Smith Tower. Avenue One's fiscal woes in 2002 were augmented when Millan was laid up for four months by a viral infection: "It knocked the stuffing out of me. I'm just getting over it now. It took me away from the restaurant and that played a big role. I know a lot of people were upset that we closed, but I couldn't continue to run it and there was no one to take it over." For now, Millan will stage private wine tastings and do consulting work for other restaurants.
Giorgina's European Kitchen, 131 15th Avenue East, held its closing equipment auction on October 3. It opened circa 1994 as Giorgina's Pizza, selling slices and pies to lunching Group Health hospital employees. Subsequent reconceptualizations turned it into Giorgina's Italian Kitchen (with an expanded dinner menu) and Giorgina's European Kitchen (with a wider variety of dishes on that menu). The lesbian-owned eatery was regularly listed in most of the major gay-travel guidebooks.
Lush Life, 2331 Second Avenue, held its closing-night party on September 28. Donna Moodie and her then-husband Marco Rulff, who'd already been running Marco's Supper Club two blocks away, opened Lush Life five years ago at the former site of Cafe Septieme (now on Broadway); the building was originally MGM's regional film distribution office. Moodie and Rulff have recently been dissolving their personal and professional partnerships. Rulff will keep Marco's; Moodie plans to start a new restaurant in the Lush Life space, "Marjorie," to open around January. Of the new establishment, she says: "[It will feature] an eclectic 'new American' menu with a little of everything, kind of bistro-y, a little buzz to it, a world-menu type thing going on with moderate prices and a range of items, more vegetarian items. It'll have a bar; it'll be a somewhat lively space but warm and cozy. Lush Life was quite successful, but I just wanted to make a fresh start. If I was going to have just one restaurant, I wanted it to be more eclectic and reflect more my personal style."