First Campagne, the elegant French mainstay at Pike Place Market, was reimagined as the more casual bistro Marché. Now, a few years later, Marché itself is shutting its doors. The last day to visit will be Feb. 28. Its popular little sister Cafe Campagne will remain open.
The restaurant in the courtyard of the Inn at the Market just wasn’t busy enough to justify keeping it open, said executive chef Daisley Gordon, who came on at Campagne in 1995 and later became owner of the restaurant and Cafe Campagne. He was “at a loss” to figure out why the renovated eatery didn’t attract more crowds, beyond the usual ups and downs like downtown parking limitations. “We were excited about the changes we had made (in 2011), and thought it was an opportunity to do something different and to work on the wine bar concept,” he said. People connected well with wine director Cyril Frechier’s extensive wines by the glass program and the bites offered at the bar — “the front end of it has a great ambience and a lot of energy” — but the back dining area didn’t achieve the same draw.
“Restaurants, they’re complicated things…” Gordon said. “We did what we were good at in that space, and did our best, and thought OK, this is a good time to move on, somebody else may have a better chance. The whole restaurant world is pretty dynamic.”
Gordon understands the sentimental connection Seattle diners have with the building.
“I’ve been in this space myself in one form or another since 1995,” he said, recalling how it remained a touchstone even for customers of the original Campagne location on Capitol Hill. Over nearly a quarter-century, the restaurant was a proving ground for fine chefs who went on to open their own beloved Seattle eateries, including Jim Drohman of Cafe Presse and Le Pichet, and Tamara Murphy of Terra Plata.
Campagne was remodeled in 2011 and re-opened as the new bistro and wine bar. Providence Cicero wrote of Marché that “the bar is bigger, the lounge more intimate, the dining room racier.” While it’s not easy supplanting an icon, she wrote, Marché might have its own chance to become one.
Cafe Campagne, originally founded by former Campagne owner Peter Lewis in 1994, is going strong, Gordon said, with new outlets and with a range of customers from those stopping by for coffee to a dinner blowout to people looking for a bit of Paris in their oeufs en meurette or cassoulet.
“It’s a transition. It’s really sad that the space is gone, I’m very happy that I’m still in the market… I feel very much that the spirit of the love of French cuisine and French dining and the French approach to dining lives on in the cafe.”
Diners can stop by to say farewell by the 28th, or make reservations online here.