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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

June 11, 2009 at 4:09 PM

0/8 guys twisting off a new cork, creating a Stir in Bellevue

When chef (and radio personality) Dan Thiessen partnered with financial-guy Matt Bomberger two-plus years ago, they twisted a cork off a new restaurant concept — 0/8 Seafood Grill and the Twisted Cork. Conceptually speaking, it turned out to be a good idea: an elegant dining room embracing a more casual wine bar adjacent to the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue. And apparently, landlord Kemper Development was impressed enough to ink the duo another deal.

Chef Dan (right) schmoozing with patrons at the Twisted Cork [Seattle Times/Mark Harrison]

Stir Martini & Raw Bar, whose name defines its mission, is scheduled to open July 31, coinciding with the debut of the Hyatt’s new 20-story hotel tower. Located in a former retail space — just off the hotel’s main lobby, or, as Bomberger describes it “down the hallway” from 0/8 — Stir is set be part of a newly formed management group, Chef Dan Restaurants.

“The concept at Stir is bar-focused first,” Bomberger says of the space whose 175-seats will include an outdoor patio on the east lawn of Bellevue Place, and an indoor patio within the complex’s refurbished Wintergarden.

Matt Bomberger lifts one at 0/8 [Kate Baldwin Photography]

Stir’s interior design will be a modern take on a Northwest lodge, but instead of a large wood beam running through the center of the space, says Bomberger, “we’ll have a large acrylic beam running through it, with reclaimed wood to accent the walls.” Stirring things up will be a “kick-but team of bartenders and cocktailors,” including Michael Anderson, director of wine and spirits at 0/8/Twisted Cork. The raw-bar is set to showcase “the best of the Northwest.” An all-day menu offering cooked foods as well will no doubt appeal to hotel guests and conference attendees coming and going at all hours.

And speaking of comings as goings: chef-exec Dan Thiessen has some interesting news regarding a new relationship — the one he’s been maintaining with his Bellevue restaurants:

“As far as creative development, food-development and branding goes, I’ll be involved at Stir. But I’m basically taking myself out of the day-to-day operation of all of our concepts,” he says. And that includes 0/8 and the Twisted Cork. He plans to focus instead on branding himself.

Chef Dan, auditioning for “Top Chef” at Canlis

“I’m going to continue expanding on Chef Dan Media, which would include radio, TV and the internet,” Thiessen says, while maintaining a financial interest in the restaurants and a business partnership with Bomberger. That said, “moving forward, I think it’s in my own best interest to do my own thing and go out on my own,” insists Chef Dan. “Right now is a really good time to be looking at new concepts, and a lot of restaurant deals are out there — both online and with the real estate developers. It’s a great opportunity for me to jump on those and take advantage of them.” Now that he’s got his own financial backing, he says, “its time to have a deal that’s strictly mine.”

So, who will be running the kitchen(s) in his absence? “We’ve got about 40 percent of the staff that’s been with us since we opened our doors, and we expect some of them to step up and continue the vision we set out two-and-a-half years ago,” Thiessen says. “There are guys who’ve been cooking with me for six years. I want them to stay.”

Bomberger, a former Microsoftie and business developer with an MBA from the University of Chicago, says he will continue to show up for work five or six days a week, focusing his attentions on the business- and financial end of running 0/8/Twisted Cork and Stir.

“From a partnership standpoint, when we went into this we were allowing for flexibility,” he says, citing the classic line oft-heard when partnerships go sideways: “We’re moving in different directions. Dan will be able to focus on other projects and on his radio show. On this side, I’m very much focusing on the operations of the restaurant — and of its continued success.”

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