Notable Seattle chef Ethan Stowell announced Wednesday that he will close three underperforming restaurants — Bramling Cross, Super Bueno and Marine Hardware — early next year.
“We love these concepts,” Stowell said in a prepared statement. “But if I’m being honest, they’ve all been challenging from an operational perspective and never been as successful as they need to be.”
Stowell’s announcement comes during an interesting time for the Seattle restaurant industry. Author and respected food journalist Kevin Alexander released his new book “Burn the Ice: The American Culinary Revolution and Its End” this summer, and in it, he theorized that the current restaurant boom is a bubble that’s about to pop.
Since the summer, Jerry Traunfeld’s Poppy has closed, and James Beard Award winner Matt Dillon has announced that Sitka & Spruce will close after New Year’s Eve service. (Dillon also told The Seattle Times in an interview in September that he thinks a gloomy future awaits the local restaurant industry: “There’s gonna be a reckoning, big-time … I don’t think it’s gonna be pretty.”)
Last month, Tom Douglas announced he will shut down TanakaSan, Home Remedy and Assembly Hall inside Via6 apartments in late January 2020. Douglas did not give a reason why he decided not to renew his lease in the Via6 complex.
Stowell has alternative plans for the three restaurants he is closing.
In Wallingford, Stowell’s Tex-Mex spot Super Bueno will reopen as Tavolàta, arguably his most successful brand. Stowell already runs two Tavolàtas in Belltown and Capitol Hill, and both draw large crowds for happy hour — especially for the big bowl of fresh pasta for $11-$12. He’s also opening a third Tavolàta downtown early next year and in the spring, he will expand with a fourth branch in the Super Bueno space.
In Ballard, both Marine Hardware and Bramling Cross will turn into event spaces. The former will also double as a pop-up facility for inspiring chefs who want to test out their concepts.
New Year’s Eve will be the last day to dine at Marine Hardware, Bramling Cross and Super Bueno.