The bar at Waterfront Seafood Grill

Photo: Randall PR

The Waterfront Seafood Grill at Pier 70—site of the legendary Real World house—is owned by Mackay Restaurant Group, which also owns El Gaucho. In an attempt to marry the brands a decision has been made to change Waterfront’s name to Aqua by El Gaucho, according to the restaurant’s gaucho-in-chief, Chad Mackay.

“We are aligning our two brands; people don’t know they are related,” said Mackay in a telephone interview Wednesday. So he hired a consultant to help the company come up with the name Aqua. He said the El Gaucho brand is recognized worldwide, and he wanted that branding to rub off on Waterfront. “For years we put up with a generic name.”

One of the attractions to “Aqua by El Gaucho” was that it wasn’t site-specific—Mackay would like to reinvent the restaurant in other cities. “I think Portland is a natural,” he told me, though he added that the restaurant group is looking at locations in other cities. There may be another El Gaucho on the way too, Mackay hinted. (The chain currently has locations in Belltown, Bellevue, Tacoma, and Portland.)

The lobby at the Pier 70 restaurant has been overhauled, and there’s new paint, carpeting, and a restroom remodel. Among the kitchen upgrades is a plancha grill for high-heat searing and a number of new grilled items will be added to the menu, including an expanded selection of steaks.

Fans of Waterfront’s happy hour need not despair: It, plus Waterfront’s most popular app and entree choices, will remain on the menu.

The Mackay group will celebrate the new iteration of its waterside restaurant at a private event on October 5.

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