Spur, the gastropub that helped usher in Seattle's craft cocktail era, not to mention our civic affection for restaurants with ambitious bar programs, closed suddenly this past Thursday.
Owner Dana Tough says a series of "compounding events" brought on the closure—declining business, a failing hot water heater that forced Spur to close for a few days, and the fact that the bar had been going month to month on their lease. Tough and business partner Brian McCracken also know that warmer weather and sunny skies usually means slower nights at places like theirs.
"Honestly we couldn’t afford to keep afloat there," Tough said this afternoon. "Staying open and trying to figure it out would have been more compromising for everybody involved." Still, after seven years serving cocktails and subtly modernist dishes in Belltown, the guys wish they'd been able to give Spur a proper sendoff.
McCracken and Tough are usually described as modernist chefs, embracing those techniques early on, though these techniques are usually in subtle support of seasonal flavors. And since opening in 2008, Spur has been home to some stellar bartenders, including David Nelson and Marley Tomic-Beard. On my last visit, then-bar manager Seth Sempere made me a great drink with falernum, sloe gin, and a syrup of cranberries from McCracken's family's cranberry bog.
The bar became a launch pad for the guys' subsequent places, Tavern Law, the Coterie Room, and the Old Sage. So brandish an Old Fashioned in memory of Spur, and all it did to shape our food and cocktail scene these past seven years.