When Five Restaurateurs Own 40 Restaurants, What Does That Mean for Seattle's Dining Scene?

A Look at the Pros and Cons of Chef-Owned Empires

Comments

1
So I went to King County to look up how many restaurants are in Seattle, because these 40 restaurants are probably a near monopoly:

"Error: The number of records matching the search criteria is too large to be displayed in the web browser. Please narrow your search criteria and try again."

*THEY* don't want you to know.
2
Linda Dershang is conspicuously absent from this piec. She owns seven bar/restaurants, all but one in Capitol Hill. Also, what about Meinert/Lejeunesse? Not close enough to the chef/owner model?

These people are doing more to "homogenize" dining in Capitol Hill that any of the chefs listed here.
3
@2 Consider the sponsors.
4
A number of the local ethnic restaurants are owned by family groups. Seattle's restaurant scene has been more homogeneous than many realized since at least the mid 90's, likely earlier.
The Stranger knew about this once. I wonder what happened.
5
@4: Stranger byline = low wages, no tips
6
Is it really that hard for Stranger Staff to double check their own morgue files? It should be easier to do than double check things using the internet. It is to some degree "physically" right there in the building with them after all.
7
@3 - I was going to say the same thing. "Thou shalt never speak questionably about those who advertise heavily"

kitschnsync was correct about the glaring absence of Queen Linda.

8
@3/7-- Maclise and Weimann should also be included: Bastille, Stoneburner, Poquito's, McCleod's, Rhein Haus...
9
Thank you! I'm glad a food writer in Seattle is finally asking this question. Seattle probably already has more restaurants than diners to support them on any given night. Our food press is all too eager to constantly write about what is new without ever really drilling down on what is actually consistently good. Every time I hear about another Tom Douglas restaurant opening it makes me wonder what culinary brilliance will never be expressed because he's gobbling up more than his fair share of the market with his fair-to-middling standards. That the "face of Seattle cuisine" is from Delaware says a lot.
10
First of all, crabby conspiracy theorists, Linda Derschang isn't a chef and this article was exclusively about chef/owners. Second, I can't for a moment support the idea that Linda's restaurants and bars are "homogenizing" our food culture. Each establishment has its own food direction (you won't find Bait Shop food at Tallulah's) and design...what hold them all together is a great vibe and good service. And no, I'm not employed by Linda - I just appreciate a great meal and a business owner who has the chops to make her vision come to life.

I WAS hoping to hear how these chefs manage to spread themselves so thin across so many restaurants...what does "Ethan Stowell," for instance, even mean anymore when he's rarely behind a stove? Or maybe he is. This article doesn't say.

Aside from Douglas, I think the chef/owners profiled here all produce excellent and innovative food. Douglas seems to be aiming at a more middlebrow experience -- or at least that's where he's landing. If this is what "empire" looks like, then I'm OK with it.
11
This shit is stupid. Too many restaurants and you have to look at your calendar to see what day it is and say nah, not going there let's just grab a bottle and drop by taco time and watch a movie. I know many distributors/growers that are not corporate and I also know distributors who like to keep the fable alive that they are "homegrown" (pun intended if you go there -- which I do). The restaurant industry is ruled by cutting as many corners as possible and making it look artistic.
12
Seattle is home of high priced mediocrity. And it's not just the restaurants.
14
All these owners also seem to be in bed with Seattle Magazine and Seattle Met
16
This is a backhanded way of shilling for them. What's that old adage? "There's no such thing as bad publicity." Yeah, Stranger. We were all born yesterday.
17
None of these guys, or Linda, are opening the same concept. They're all doing unique projects when they open a new place. I think that's significant. They all seem committed to Seattle too. I think their impact is mostly positive.