A beloved Fremont place finally finds a new home.
The new Dot’s Butcher & Deli looks great, smells great and feels great. Two glass cases are stuffed full of housemade sausages, porchetta, charcuterie, three kinds of pâté and more; proprietor Miles James already seems right at home behind the counter in Pike Place Market, with bouquets of congratulatory flowers from his neighbors at Oriental Mart nearby. “Miles, this sandwich is killer!” shouts someone working at Shy Giant Frozen Yogurt, trying one he brought to them first thing upon opening today. “SO GOOD!”
James started the original Dot’s — a butcher and sandwich shop named, sweetly, after his grandmother — in Fremont in 2011. He’d cooked at the Painted Table, Campagne, Union, Cremant and Gramercy Tavern, plus had his own hot-dog cart. In Fremont, James earned much love from the neighborhood and beyond, but when he expanded into a bistro in 2011, it didn’t go so well. With “deep sadness,” he closed down that June.
The last year’s been a “crazy” one, he says; he worked as a “mercenary” at Radiator Whiskey, Mollusk, Hitchcock, and Sisters and Brothers, “almost as many places as the whole rest of my life.” He also did some construction, because “it pays better.”
The new space for Dot’s — at First and Pike in the Corner Market Building, near Britt’s Pickles — fell into James’ lap. He was working upstairs at Radiator Whiskey and happened to overhear a conversation: “I was literally standing in the right place at the right time,” he says. The setup had briefly housed BB Ranch Butcher, but was a butcher shop long before that, the oldest in the Market; James says the building used to be a barn, with hay upstairs. His space has an overhead rail system for ferrying whole animals into a huge walk-in cooler, with a neat vintage scale.
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“It’s definitely more of a butcher shop than Dot’s was,” James says. “This is what Dot’s was supposed to be.”
The new Dot’s would’ve been open a week and a half ago, but the walk-in died the morning of the originally scheduled health inspection. “Something bad always has to happen,” James says philosophically. He’s happy to have guys from his old crew back, including Robby Rickert, who was sous chef at Dot’s, then worked as head butcher at the great Rain Shadow Meats, Pioneer Square branch. The enterprise is going to involve, Rickert says, “A lot of pig love.” James agrees.
Dot’s is open daily from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.; the menu of sandwiches is served from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. I’d strongly recommend what I just had for lunch: a cheesesteak, on Grand Central Bakery bread with Mama Lil’s peppers, onions, and James’ own version of Cheez Whiz — béchamel with cheddar, provolone, cream cheese and turmeric for color. Warning: It is very messy to eat. “Do it like a burrito,” James recommends.