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All You Can Eat

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Topic: Blind Pig Bistro

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December 5, 2013 at 11:42 PM

Your table is not waiting, but you are: the ‘no reservations’ game

A menu at Blind Pig Bistro Photo: Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times

Menu at Blind Pig Bistro
Photo: Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times

With just 27 seats and a chalkboard menu listing fewer than a dozen items, Blind Pig Bistro appears to be the sort of neighborhood place that wouldn’t take reservations, much less offer a tasting menu.

But the two-year-old Eastlake eatery announced this week they now accept reservations, plus they’ve made their popular whole-menu tasting option more attractive: the 8 to10-plate shareable feast is priced at $35-$45 per person.

The news got me wondering anew why some restaurants take reservations, while others—to the annoyance of many diners, me included—don’t.

Blind Pig’s chef/owner Charles Walpole says he’s thinking of his customers. “The idea at this point is, how can we be better, how can we grow. Taking reservations is one way we can improve service. It’s asking a lot to ask people to come in and not have a table waiting.”

He’s also thinking long term. In 2014 he plans to transform the adjacent Eastlake Teryiyaki into a 35-seat bar and lounge. The two storefronts will be connected but have separate names and menus.

The reason many small restaurants don’t take reservations, says Walpole, is largely a staffing issue. “It requires managing the tables, calling and confirming the reservations. We have a bigger staff and a stronger team. We feel we can do it now and do it right.”

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0 Comments | Topics: Blind Pig Bistro, Cantinetta, Ethan Stowell Restaurants

June 3, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Blind Pig Bistro expands as strip mall meets culinary style

Eastlake photo by Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times

Eastlake photo by Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times

For years, passerbys did double-takes entering one particular restaurant in the little strip mall on Eastlake Avenue. The 22-seat space at 2238 Eastlake Ave. E. has incongruously housed an unbroken chain of some of Seattle’s best and most reasonably priced fine food, from the original Sitka & Spruce to the much-missed Nettletown to current tenants Blind Pig Bistro. (In what might have started the circle of excellence, before Sitka it was the home of Sophie’s Donuts, sharing space with the interim Boat Street Kitchen.)

Often, casual visitors would see a menu listing dishes like halibut cheeks or salads dressed in ramp-ginger vinaigrette or mackerel with chorizo. Then they would slowly back out and head instead to the right or to the left, for more predictable strip mall fare of Subway sandwiches or teriyaki chicken.

Now, though, the culinary balance is shifting. Blind Pig Bistro owners Charles Walpole and Rene Gutierrez are taking over the Eastlake Teriyaki storefront, renaming it Blind Pig at Eastlake Teriyaki. They’re designing it as a place for more casual and takeout-friendly versions of Blind Pig’s focus on “local ingredients with global techniques,” once described as “a menu by chefs for chefs—fresh, unfussy food cooked just right.”

Look for “sandwiches and soups and salads,” said Gutierrez, who will run the new place.

As Blind Pig’s popularity grew, Gutierrez said, customers worried it would outgrow the small space. They would ask “are you going to pack up and move away?” That wasn’t what they wanted to do. “I’d rather stay in one spot and make it work.” When the teriyaki shop closed, they grabbed the opportunity to expand their offerings and add another 18-20 seats.

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0 Comments | Topics: Blind Pig Bistro, Charles Walpole, Rebekah Denn