Wondering what’s to become of the 7800-square-foot Trader Vic’s restaurant and bar? I was, for about two minutes. Then I read between the lines of a press-release sent today, crowing: “Pearl Brings Lustre To Bellevue’s Dining Scene: Dynamic new restaurant at Lincoln Square set to open late fall.” Oddly enough, there was no word in the release about Trader Vic’s — whose closure I’d chronicled early today. But Pearl’s address — 700 Bellevue Way NE., Suite 50 — sure looked familiar.
Turns out chef Bradley Dickinson and his business partner Mikel Rogers are moving in. Dickinson (former chef-exec for Schwartz Brothers restaurants Daniel’s Broiler, Spazzo and Chandler’s Crabhouse, where he’s worked for 25 years) and Rogers (regional manager for Schwartz Brothers — whose management expertise was honed at Robert Rosellini’s The Other Place, and at Il Terrazzo Carmine) are psyched about the opportunity. “I’ve been working on the project for almost a year, but this location came up a couple of months ago,” says Dickinson. And they jumped on it.
“It’s a beautiful space, but it’s a Trader Vic’s space — and we don’t want anything that says `Trader Vic’s,'” he says. To that end, “We’ve got a great design team working on it and it’s going to be amazing,” They won’t need to do anything structurally, says the chef, who’s impressed by the already-functional kitchen where he’ll be preparing his contemporary American menu. But with the 200-plus-seat dining room and bar, their goal is to create “a real urban feel in the middle of downtown Bellevue.” And that, says Dickinson, is going to be a challenge here on a “restaurant row” that’s home to P.F. Chang’s and the Cheesecake Factory. Rather than being part of that, er, chain of events, the independent restaurateurs are hoping to create a dining scene more reminiscent “of Belltown and Queen Anne” than we’re used to seeing in Bellevue. If all goes smoothly, Pearl should be open by mid-November.