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All You Can Eat

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

March 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Bring on the bacon jam! Great local restaurants coming to Seattle Center

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Bring on the bacon jam, and don’t call it a mere “food court” anymore.

The renovated, redesigned atrium at the Seattle Center House is going to house several of the city’s excellent and exciting eateries.

Truth to tell, I’ll miss the beignet place, one of several old vendors now gone. But I’m thrilled that Skillet Street Food has signed a contract to open a walk-up window in the redesigned Center House, and there will be a branch of Pie with its sweet and savory pastries, as well as a new branch of Eltana bagels. Those three are just the first few confirmed tenants in what’s expected to be a big collection of restaurants, food trucks, and mobile carts, said spokeswoman Deborah Daoust.

Part of the center’s master plan from a few years back spoke about the need to give the space more of a local presence, Daoust said. Graham Baba architects, who have made a big mark in recent years in the city’s dining scene, won the contract to do the work, with a mission of reclaiming the Center House’s best features.

“This is an armory building and I think since it was built in 1939, there’s been an effort to make it not look like an armory,” she said. The architects said “Why are you doing that? It’s such a grand old building, let’s expose some of what makes it great.”

The new space will be unrecognizable from the old, with less “visual chaos” and more open space, and historic details like huge steel columns that used to be hidden by drywall, now exposed and painted black and “just beautiful.” There will be room for food carts and for a communal kitchen for the vendors, big windows, and outdoor seating.

Eltana co-founder Daniel Levin said the Center space will be a kiosk. They were approached by the project manager, thought it was a great deal, and were attracted by the Graham Baba architecture (the company also did Eltana’s hip, airy Capitol Hill digs). (Seattle Met says the Bigfood food truck is also talking about a kiosk, theirs serving Caribbean-Indian food.)

Center staff are racing to get vendors in place before an influx of visitors for the upcoming Chihuly museum and the opening of the Pacific Science Center’s King Tut exhibit. Those with “fewer logistical issues” should be in by May, Daoust said, hopefully others will open by June.

Photo: Skillet Diner on Capitol Hill. Looking forward to another non-roving place to find that food. Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times

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