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April 2, 2009 at 7:28 PM

Yarrow Bay Grill to close, “bin” moves in, Beach Cafe remains

There’s been a lot going on at Kirkland’s Carillon Point, where a game of restaurant musical chairs, well underway over the last several months, has reached critical mass. After nearly 20 years in business, the Yarrow Bay Grill closes April 30 to make room for a new tenant: bin on the lake (their lowercase, not mine). If that name sounds familiar, it’s because we’re talking about bin vivant — the wine-centric restaurant that made its debut in Carillon Point’s Woodmark Hotel only eight months ago.

Seattle Times photo/Ken Lambert

In December, the much-applauded restaurant lost its star chef Lisa Nakamura:

photo credit: Christine Gaillard

Next to go, its savvy sommelier Dawn Smith. Smith was plucked from her plum job at Canlis to open bin vivant, and this week named wine manager for the Heavy Restaurant Group, overseeing their wine program at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Barrio and Bliss — opening this summer in Bellevue Towers.

photo of Dawn Smith courtesy of Heavy Restaurant Group

When bin makes the move (ETA: late June if renovations are completed in time) we can expect a new face for the old place and a far more spacious and compelling waterfront setting — one with a Lake Washington view from every vantage point. In the meantime, bin vivant remains open for business with no down-time anticipated, as will Yarrow Bay’s casual sibling the Beach Cafe at the Point. The cafe (whose longtime chef-exec Cameon Orel left last year to run the Fall City Roadhouse) will get a minor makeover during the coming months, to include expanded seating in a new fireside lounge and a patio extended to twice its size. Breakfast is in the offing as well. The cosmetic work begins mid-April and is expected to be completed by June.

The transition to Yarrow Bay’s prime location has been orchestrated by restaurant consultant Ken Batali on behalf of the owners of Carillon Properties — landlords for both restaurants. “I’ll be getting them through the opening of bin, staying though the summer and stepping out from there,” Batali told me. He also answered the question regarding the next move for Yarrow Bay chef-exec Vicky McCaffree, who’s been with the restaurant since 1991 (save for a brief hiatus at Waterfront Seafood Grill).

Photo of Vicky McCaffree courtesy of Yarrow Bay Grill

After the closure, her plan is to take the summer off, plant a garden and catch her breath, Batali said. And what about Allan Aquila, longtime GM and minority partner among Yarrow Bay’s corporate ownership — a group that includes Carillon Properties and Ray’s Boathouse partners Russ Wohlers and Earl Lasher?

Aquila parted ways with Yarrow Bay in September and has turned the tables to write about the industry as the new food & wine editor at ‘mo Magazine. He’ll cover the food, drink and restaurant scene for Seattle’s gay, lesbian and transgender community in print and online. His first column, offering his take on John Howie’s new Seastar Restaurant & Raw Bar, O Wines and Mercer Island’s Cellar 46, appears this month.

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