My eulogy for some of the notable local restaurants we lost in 2014 was necessarily incomplete, though you’d think a list of 15 wouldn’t be missing many. But some important ones were left off, either for space reasons or because in going back through the gigantic volume of Seattle restaurant news over the last year, I missed them (sorry!). There’s even been one more closure of note — Central District cheesesteak standby Philadelphia Fevre, on Madison — since the farewell article was published just last Wednesday.
La Bête on Capitol Hill absolutely should’ve been mentioned in the already-happily-reopened category (I even wrote about its reopening in a Nov. 21 food news column). La Bête served an upscale, excellent New American menu in its low-lit, romantic space (which was formerly the weird hodgepodge known as Chez Gaudy), and Seattle food-lovers were very sad when it closed. But the same chef/owner, Aleks Dimitrijevic, has already opened Spaghetti Western in the same spot. He’s making barbecue and spaghetti (with house-made pasta), and he’s added a modicum of Western knickknacks and louder music; the barbecue is served on tin trays. Also: a new happy hour, Tuesday through Saturday, 5 to 6:30 p.m.
The Book Bindery is another noteworthy 2014 closure, and another that’s already reopened with a new name under the same ownership, but with a new chef. The elegant space is located right along the Ship Canal near the Fremont Bridge; great opening chef Shaun McCrain left after two years to pursue his own as-yet-unannounced restaurant project. Replacing him: chef Nicolas “Nico” Borzee, whose impressive resume includes Artusi in Seattle; Michelin-starred restaurants abroad L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, La Table du Lancaster, Bar et Boeuf and Le Louis XV; and San Francisco’s double-Michelin-starred Coi. The new name of the very promising Book Bindery 2.0 is Hommage.
In the less haute, gone forever and sorely missed department, there’s Piecora’s. After 32 years serving New York-style pizza on Madison, the Piecora family sold the building for $10.29 million, which must’ve made it feel better for them but didn’t much console the rest of us. Piecora’s hosted birthday parties, wakes, literature crawls and political rallies both conservative (like one Piecora’s brother) and liberal (the other Piecora’s brother); its soothing dark-green walls, vinyl-upholstered booths and red-and-white-checked plastic tablecloths were comfortable, familiar and loved. A hotel (doubtless a fancy one) is reportedly going in on the Piecora’s spot. RIP, Piecora’s.
Another Seattle great that lasted 30 years and is now gone forever: Catfish Corner, a Central District place that served good fried fish and served as a hub for the community. While owners the West family reportedly owed money to their landlords and for state taxes, as the CD gentrifies, more black-owned businesses like Catfish Corner are being lost, and that is a loss to Seattle as a whole.
Eva near Green Lake was another longtime neighborhood favorite that closed in 2014. Mostly unsung outside of Tangletown, Eva was much better than most standbys like it (and had an excellent wine list, too). The Eva space has since become the Himalayan Sherpa House.
A reader named Richard wrote mourning the passing of Green Village, his I.D. favorite. I never had the pleasure of eating there, but here’s a moving tribute to Green Village and its owner, Wendy.
And two readers wrote to scold me for omitting McCormick & Schmick’s on First. I left it off my list because I was fairly sure that it closed in 2013, but after the scolding, I called the corporation that owns the McCormick & Schmick’s chain, Landry’s in Houston; if they have any resources for inquiries, the telephone system there obscures them entirely. A manager at McCormick & Schmick’s Harborside on Westlake then assured me that the First Avenue outlet closed two years ago in January — which doesn’t seem right, does it? — and that he was not authorized to give me any further information about why they closed, etc. So, there’s that. They still have three outlets locally, though.
One more imminent shutdown: After 30-plus years of red-and-green chile service, the Santa Fe Cafe will close on Jan. 1. The original Ravenna space was a biker bar before Steve and Greg Gibbons took it over way back in 1981; relatively new owners Drew and Erin Bloom bought the later Phinney Ridge location in 2008, and they don’t want to close at all. Drew Bloom says the end of the Santa Fe Cafe is due to familiar factors: “declining revenues; higher cost of food, liquor, labor; higher cost of chiles being shipped from New Mexico. And… [we] could not secure a new lease.” When offered condolences, he said, “It’s a very sad time for us,” but he said they’d had a “good 33-year run… times they are a changin’.” For this one, it’s not too late to go say goodbye.