Matt Dillon, the empire-building restaurateur who has given us Sitka and Spruce, Bar Ferd’nand, the Corson Building, Bar Sajor, and most recently the London Plane and its party adjunct, the Little London Plane—has done as much as any entrepreneur to bring us back to Pioneer Square.
I spoke with Dillon by phone for my review of London Plane in our September Seahawks issue—specifically, about the changing nature of Seattle’s original neighborhood. A ton of new establishments have opened (or are about to) in the shadow of the Clink—including Pizzeria Gabbiano, Intermezzo Carmine, Taylor Shellfish, Altstadt, Damn the Weather, and the forthcoming Good Bar and Quality Athletics. I asked him how it felt to have blazed the trail.
“I think it’s kind of funny,” he said. “But you know, there’s only 2,000 residents down here—about 1,000 of whom actually have an address.” A huge percentage of the resident population, in other words, isn’t exactly working with a dining-out budget.
“So I certainly didn’t think it was going to become the next great restaurant destination, and I don’t think it’s there yet. I’m happy for the people who are opening restaurants. But all of a sudden it’s like nine new restaurants down there. That big push…it feels very Seattle to me. If it were me I’d try to find people with other business ideas that aren’t restaurants or bars.”
“At street level it’d be nice to see someone’s little furniture shop, or clothing store. Somewhere to buy a hammer.”
Or, come 2016, somewhere to buy a cellulose fiber product.