Ever since taking over the space at 600-602 19th Ave, David Meinert, Jason LaJeunesse, and Joey Burgess have given the most basic of descriptions—pizza and pasta, weekend brunch—of the Italian restaurant they're opening in the Capitol Hill space that spent 18 years as the Kingfish Cafe.
Now the trio's Guild Seattle restaurant group, also behind Pike/Pine neostaples like Lost Lake Cafe, Comet Tavern, and Big Mario's, have a name and a basic premise for their newest establishment. It shall be called...Ernest Loves Agnes.
The name should ring a bell for English majors and Hemingway fans. While recuperating in a Red Cross hospital in Milan during World War I, 19-year-old Ernest Hemingway fell in love with Agnes von Kurowsky, a nurse seven years his senior. The two planned to marry until she eventually ended the romance (via a letter...ouch) but fictionalized versions of her show up in various Hemingway stories, particularly A Farewell to Arms.
So what's up with the name? Is it a love that's bittersweet, like the cocktail list? Will the bar be a hangout for gents with literary leanings and a thing for older women? Nah, per a quote from Burgess: "We're just a few Americans falling in love with all things Italian."
Ernest Loves Agnes will serve lunch and dinner daily, swapping in a lengthy brunch menu on weekends. The Guild brought in a chef named Mac Jarvis to build each season's menu of pizza, pasta, and other local, rustic-leaning plates. Her resume includes time at Lost Lake, Smith, and Lola; in a release, Burgess credits her for reviving the brunch menu at Grim's, which he and his partners bought in late 2014.
In a decided departure from the Guild's other spots, Ernest Loves Agnes is aimed at families just as much as 19th Avenue's more footloose denizens. Half the space will be a full sit-down restaurant, the other part dedicated to dimmer lighting and booze, particularly Italian wine, a host of amari, and cocktails thereof.
The restaurant is aiming for a late summer open. Keep tabs on its progress via the newly minted Ernest Loves Agnes website.
Another relative newcomer, Manolin on Stone way, takes its name from Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. If this is a trend in the making, I'm all for it.