CHECK, PLEASE. Some high-end Belltown restaurants are on their last course. First, William Belickis shuttered his 10-table prix-fixe destination restaurant Mistral in 2008. When, the next year, he introduced Seattle to MistralKitchen (see review here), his slick new 5,000-square-foot space in the West 8 Building, it was clear some deep pockets were behind the scenes.
The white-tablecloth flight continued this year. In January, Christine Keff announced that Flying Fish, her beloved Belltown seafood spot, would be making the leap to South Lake Union as well, lured to the neighborhood by Paul Allen’s development megalith Vulcan. Keff says Belltown had changed in the 15 years since Flying Fish’s spawning. Where once wandered fat-walleted diners looking for a fine filet of fish and a bottle of wine, now go tank-topped club hoppers and cocktail connoisseurs with a yen to get their drink on.
Keff says the lure of an SLU lunch crowd is also part of the new neighborhood’s appeal; once amazon.com moves into its new 1.7 million-square-foot Vulcan village next year, 25,000 people will live and work in the area. But she also likes the security that comes with a wealthy landlord who is heavily invested in the ’hood.
In March, Tom Douglas—the reigning king of Belltown fine dining—announced he’ll be opening multiple restaurants in a Vulcan building inside Amazon’s new campus. And Vulcan real estate and marketing director Robert Arron says we can expect to hear about more local restaurateurs signing on to open up shop in SLU. “Our model with South Lake Union is to introduce authentic, iconic local businesses rather than national brands with 200 different stores,” he said. Then he added: “Though there’ll be some of those, too.”