Grace Love, best known these days for her nine-piece band, Grace Love and the True Loves, clearly knows a great deal about soul—both foodwise and musically. The Seattle singer and front-woman is hoping to open a restaurant run by aspiring artists in where else but KEXP's new home, just a stone's throw from KeyArena. It's a strong contender among many to fill the forthcoming space.
Named after her mother, who passed away in 2007, Nadine's Cafe wants to carry on the spirit and generosity of its namesake through Love's proposal to employ at-risk youth and young adults as well as nurture their creative pursuits. Knowing all too well the life and stereotype of the starving artist,—“I was literally sitting in a Starbucks, homeless in New York City, trying to find a place to stay...and I don't think anyone should suffer because they want to do art,”—Love wants to provide jobs, classes, and a culinary space where they'll all converge. The cafe would hire about a dozen people to start who will attend workshops led by local pros, choosing initially from five areas of interest: film, music, fashion, dance, and, of course, food.
As for the menu, Love, who has about 15 years of food and beverage experience, wants to share the cuisine her mother cooked: food from the soul. “And not just this cliche thing of what soul food is...yeah, definitely going to have staples like fried chicken and collard greens, but more stuff [that] makes you feel at home.” The potential cafe's menu will have fried catfish with creamy polenta, a vegan Southern-style curry with sweet potatoes and turnips, jerk-spiced tofu, and for dessert good old-fashioned buttermilk pie.
And luckily for the road-worn musicians passing through the KEXP studios, Nadine's will also serve booze: local wine and beer as well as kombucha, all on tap...because Seattle.
Opening a restaurant is risky on its own, opening one as a philanthropic endeavor is ballsy. To help with executing Love's vision of a southern-spirited gathering place meets arts program, Nadine's Cafe launched a Kickstarter campaign at the end of March. “I'm glad I can touch people with music, but I have more in me,” Love says of this dream project. And to her future employees, “I want them to know that somebody cares.”
Nadine's Cafe is one of the finalists under consideration and if chosen is slated to open this summer, serving breakfast, lunch, and happy hour. Keep tabs on more updates and upcoming popups at the Nadine's Cafe Facebook.
This story was edited on April 5 to reflect that the restaurant is a finalist under consideration for the new space.