One thousand dollars, s’il vous plaît. Thierry Rautureau asks patrons to pay it forward. Sort of.

Thierry Rautureau hasn’t asked much of you since he opened Rover’s, his fancy French eatery. For over twenty years he’s been slaving away over a hot stove, serving you the very best in French cuisine, with a side of laid-back neighborly cheer.

Now, he’s looking for a little help. The “Chef in the Hat” has asked friends, neighbors, and fans to invest in his new restaurant venture, Luc, a bar and bistro that will grace the corner of 28th & Madison, serving inexpensive, casual bites, take-out munchies, beer, and cocktails. Here’s how it’ll work: Rautureau’s plan asks investors to buy a $1,000 gift card, redeemable at Rover’s or Luc, that he will issue in three installments of $450 (one each year until 2012), adding to a grand total of $1,350 return for your investment – three years later.

Wait, what?

The concept is doable, Rautureau insists, because it’ll get people involved in a community restaurant that they know they can trust. Diners will invest money upfront that they would have normally spent on dinner out anyway. “It’s a community event,” the chef insists with his usual joviality. “There’s no better place to get everyone involved than in Seattle. And the timing is perfect right now for this kind of project.” Rautureau is banking on his good rep and solid fan base to gather investors. “I have a little bit of a track record,” says the chef, “and hopefully that will carry a lot of the weight.”

Luc will be a significantly cheaper date than Rover’s, featuring cross-over cuisine that is “Frenchy” in style, but international in taste, with un petit price tag. Along with his signature French delicacies, Rautureau plans to serve hamburgers, sandwiches, and Moroccan dishes, all in a relaxed, come-and-go environment with open windows to the sidewalk and a grill out back. “It’ll be a good nibble place,” says Rautureau.

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