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All You Can Eat

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

April 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM

Farewell to Chez Shea, “Seattle’s sexy secret”

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For a 29-year-old restaurant at a tourist-heavy destination, Chez Shea was racking up some impressive reviews as recently as last week. It had an “impeccable” atmosphere, wrote one Yelper. It was a “beautiful dining experience,” said another. That was often par for the course at the Pike Place Market restaurant Nancy Leson once called “Seattle’s sexy secret: a place where romance was always in the air and a prix-fixe menu offered local, seasonal ingredients.”

The doors are going to close on April 29, though, said owner Tomoyo Ikawa, who purchased the business from founder Sandy Shea in 2004. That gives fans a week or so to come say goodbye.

“We’ll be closed for the next month for a major remodel,” she said — and possibly closed longer. Ikawa said plans aren’t final yet, so she can’t say for sure what happens next. But Storyville Coffee, a Bainbridge-Island based roaster, received approval from the Pike Place Historical Commission last week to open a specialty coffee bar in the Chez Shea space, featuring “coffee, espresso, tea, beer, wine, pastries/specialty desserts, soups, salads, sandwiches and waffles.” Plans also call for selling accessories like French press grinders, and having live acoustic music evenings and weekends.

Storyville says on its Facebook page that it expects to be open at the market sometime in 2012: “Since 2006 we have been designing and producing culinary coffee experiences for your home and we couldn’t be more excited to invite you into ours.”

It’s not much solace for those who loved the relaxed fine dining at Chez Shea, but Storyville has a strong reputation, and the market commission’s agenda also showed another bright new dining spot in the works: Looks like Los Agaves, which makes terrific tacos at various farmers markets, is planning a breakfast-lunch joint at the former Gary’s Tex-Mex.

Edited 4/19 to reflect that the restaurant will be open until April 29

Photo: Chez Shea in its former glory. Kevin P. Casey/The Seattle Times

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