Salumi is expanding, one Seattle bar is duplicating Two Bells's famous burger, and other restaurant news.
The name above the restaurant door remains the same, but something seems amiss. Your favorite soup is no longer on the menu. Furniture has been rearranged, and it has nothing to do with feng shui. Some unfamiliar faces took over some familiar places last year. But the new owners are just now putting their fingerprints on their bars and restaurants. Here’s what to expect from those revamped spots.
Grant Peak Capital bought Salumi last October. Maybe you didn’t notice because owners Gina Batali and her husband, Brian D’Amato, still work behind the counter. The couple still have a minority share in the business, one of three seats on the board, according to Clara Veniard, founding partner of Grant Peak Capital.
With the cash infusion, Salumi will soon expand with a manufacturing facility to cure more meats including the popular mole salami. That facility, to be located in Seattle, will allow Salumi to fill more orders for supermarkets, gourmet shops, restaurants and delis nationwide. This second location, to be named later, won’t double as a deli or retail shop.
Batali said the deal allows Salumi to grow given Grant Peak Capital’s expertise in e-commerce and sales. “The deli is fine, which is what most people in Seattle see. In the back we have a production facility that is relatively small. We are often out of stock. It gets old.”
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Batali said her family-run business cranks out 2,000 pounds of cured meat in that tiny back kitchen every week, nowhere close to meeting the demand. “We can only take a handful of orders per week for out-of-state shipping,” she said.
You can still get all your favorite sandwiches at the Pioneer Square spot on Third Avenue South. No expansion will be made to that deli space, so unfortunately the line will continue out the door during lunch.
The target reopening date is Valentine’s Day. And this University District watering hole will start serving the much-loved Two Bells burger.
Café Racer closed in October after owner Kurt Geissel concluded he couldn’t keep piling up debt just to save the place out of nostalgia. It also didn’t help business that this coffee shop/bar was the scene of a mass shooting five years ago when a mentally ill man opened fire and killed four customers.
Geissel still has a minority share, but the head of the operation is Jeff Ramsey, who was a restaurant consultant at Can Can cabaret in Pike Place Market. Ramsey and his business partners think Café Racer still has legs and provides a public service to the Ravenna-and-Roosevelt community.
A popular hangout with artists and musicians, Café Racer will keep its kitschy back art gallery, called the OBAMA room (Official Bad Art Museum of Art room) and will also run a rotating art exhibit in the front room.
As far as food goes, Ramsey said he got permission from the former owner of the now-closed Two Bells Bar and Grill to duplicate its signature burger. One specialty will be its biscuits and gravy, each order coming drenched with your choice of country sausage gravy, mushroom-onion gravy or a caramel-bourbon-apple gravy. It will be offered at all hours. Old favorites such as the tuna melt and the hash browns will remain on the menu, Ramsey said.
The bar will focus more on local craft products. Expect more microbrews and booze from Seattle distilleries.
Travis Rosenthal, who owns Rumba and Tango on Capitol Hill, has taken over. Rosenthal said “a third of the menu has changed,” with new salads and a list of rotating entrees to focus on seasonal ingredients. He is gradually changing the menu, though he said the popular burger, Reuben sandwich and the kids’ mac-and-cheese will remain. “My daughter says if I change the kids’ macaroni and cheese, kids will march outside the restaurant to protest.”
Look for a new craft-cocktail program such as The Last Word and Rumba’s punch. The restaurant will get a face-lift with new reclaimed-wood décor and paintings by local artist Mary Larson. Rosenthal is trying out different bar stools and tabletops.
Karuna Long, a bartender at this Phinney Ridge bar, now owns it. Oliver’s Twist is one of the best cocktail bars in the north end. The menu will be revamped in the spring: more shareable plates and a few entrees tweaked with Southeast Asian flavors, Long said. Oliver’s Twist was more of a bar-snack place before. The popular pate, grilled-cheese sandwich and truffle popcorn will stay on the menu, he said.
He’s also doing a Cambodian pop-up dinner in late February. Long has worked behind the bar or started the cocktail program at Bar Charlie, Terra Plata, Gracia and Skillet in Ballard. Though the drink favorites will remain on the cocktail menu, he will add a few “seasonal cocktails” to take advantage of fresh ingredients.
(Note that the Oliver’s Twist in Magnolia will become a sushi joint, Yume, from the folks who run Shiku in Ballard.)
Andy Gundel took over this Magnolia brewery in December 2016, but the ownership change got more attention in recent weeks because his first signature beer was released last month.
Urban Family Brewing now focuses on barrel-aged beers; a recent bottle release was a saison aged for seven months in Muscat wine barrels. Gundel currently has 74 barrels aging at the brewery and will buy more barrels to experiment with. His goal is to release one to four barrel-aged beers per quarter. At the tasting room, you can sample a dozen different sours and farmhouse ales on tap from his head brewer Isaac Koski who came from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado.
The Heavy Restaurant Group, which operates nine restaurants including Barrio and the Purple Café and Wine Bars, announced last week it has purchased this Woodinville bakery to get into the wholesale business, hawking baked goods to hotels, supermarkets and other restaurants. The bakery already supplies breads and pastries to the nine restaurants that the Heavy Restaurant Group runs in Seattle and on the Eastside.
Like Oliver’s Twist, this Capitol Hill bar is now run by former employees. Owners Andrew Dalan and Brandon Paul Weaver said there will be some “cosmetic changes” in a few months, but the menu and focus of this popular neighborhood bar won’t be tinkered with. You will, though, see a rotating tap-takeover to showcase a different local microbrewery every month.
The Capitol Hill Seattle blog reports that Pavit Jagga and Ryan Lewis have purchased the Canterbury, the medieval-theme bar across from Liberty. Lewis also owns Amber in Belltown. The Capitol Hill blog said to “expect a new food menu soon and a wider selection of beer, wine and booze.”
In related news, Commonwealth, the new speakeasy whiskey bar in Belltown, has changed its name to Branchwater to avoid confusion with the Commonwealth restaurant in Snoqualmie. Green Lake Ale House is now JaK’s Alehouse. Same owner but different concept. According to its Facebook announcement, JaK’s Alehouse will showcase a lot of artisanal producers such as local beers Reuben’s and Pike Brewing and cocktails made with spirits from Seattle distilleries such as Copperworks Distilling Co. and Fremont Mischief.