Local 360 takes over the former Flying Fish space at 1st and Bell.

Belltown has experienced a full-on dining desertion these past few years, and lately there have been rumblings that Restaurant Zoe owners Scott and Heather Staples wouldn’t mind a move out of the neighborhood.

So I loved learning (via the Belltown Messenger) about Local 360, the new Melrose Market-style project in the old Flying Fish location at First and Bell.

Eager to know more, I spoke with Kerri Harrop, who is working on the project with owner Marcus Charles, just as she did the reopening of the Crocodile two years ago. (In addition to being a partner at the Croc, Charles own Juju nearby). Harrop says the name Local 360 comes from the goal to source 90 percent of ingredients from within 360 miles of Seattle. “It’s not just a marketing idea,” she says, stressing that the restaurant will be careful not to make claims of “local” or “organic” when they are unfounded.

The food is casual American comfort. “We won’t have a $6 burger but we’re not going to have a $20 burger either,” says Harrop. The chef is Chris Jensen, who was the interim chef at the Sorrento Hotel’s Hunt Club before Matthew Mina took over. (With unfortunate results, he has since left).

It sounds a lot more low key that the fussy-yet-fantastic Sitka and Spruce, the restaurant anchor at Melrose Market. But that could be a good thing. Much more than a new fine-dining destination or, Lord help us, another nightclub, Belltown needs a community hub that’s affordable and comfortable and founded on the principles of good food. And it sounds like it’s getting one.

Flanking the restaurant will be what Harrop calls “the mercantile,” where a butcher, cheesemonger, bakery, and pickling/condiment shop are planned. (Harrop did not yet have a list of vendors, I’ll share that as soon as I get it).

December 1st is the tentative opening date.

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