Linda Derschang is no stranger to opening restaurants and bars. Hell, she's been at it since 1994, when she opened Linda's Tavern with the owners of Sub Pop Records. Derschang's logged 11 establishments since then and shows no sign of stopping. Indeed, next up will be Queen City at First and Blanchard.
Derschang's restaurant group has dominated the Capitol Hill dining scene with places like Smith, two Oddfellows, and of course Linda's. Then there's King's Hardware in Ballard. But now Derschang is putting her effortlessly stylish mark on Belltown.
"Since moving downtown a few years ago," Derschang tells me, "I’ve been wishing there was a place like Smith nearby, a neighborhood hangout for a cocktail and a burger."
When she heard that Queen City Grill was for sale, she knew that was her answer.
Queen City Grill, as we knew it, opened its doors in 1987, on the cusp of a changing neighborhood. Belltown, at the time, was still mostly made up of labor temples, blue collar bars, and artists' studios—nary a crane or towering mixed-use building around. The restaurant and bar space has old Seattle ties that date back even further. That particular corner of Belltown bore the name Queen City as far back as 1890, with iterations as a saloon, tavern, bar, and, most recently, the aforementioned grill.
For over 30 years QCG defined a new, champagne-bottle-popping era of Belltown. Brendan McGill, chef-owner of Hitchcock, Bruciato, and more, cooked there in the early 2000s. In 2017, when a closure loomed for QCG, Trevor Greenwood, who owns the Cantinetta Restaurant Group, swooped in with other local Seattle investors to save it. It re-opened May 2017, but quietly shuttered this spring.
Now, Derschang will take up the helm. Queen City, in its newest form, is projected to open at the end of this month, but may eek into early September. Such is Seattle restaurant openings nowadays.
The space itself will remain familiar save for a few Linda Derschang touches: "The bones of the space are fantastic so we don’t want to do much, mainly change some of the lighting, add a few marble tables, some art, of course a bit of taxidermy and a little paint."
The menu, which won't be large, will feel spiritually akin to Smith, and will even boast the beloved Smith burger, steak frites, and a Niçoise salad. Chef Will Richey, who worked at Tallulah’s and now Smith, will run the kitchen, splitting his time between the two restaurants. To drink, bar director Myles Burroughs is creating a cocktail menu with lots of classics, including a few cocktails on tap like a Manhattan, and will focus on natural wines.
In other happenings in the Derschang gang of restaurants, Tallulah's is officially under new ownership as of July, reports Capitol Hill Seattle. The change has been in the works for months, but now Brad Haggen (yes, that grocery chain Haggen) operates the North Capitol Hill restaurant with reportedly little changes having been made.
This article has been updated on August 22 at 2:32pm to reflect that Queen City Grill was opened by Peter Lamb, Robert Eickhof, and Steve and Jennifer Good in 1987, not 1986 as previously stated. Thanks Joel of Port Townsend, who also notes that the restaurant of yore was "was damn near perfect." This article has been updated on August 23 at 4:19pm to reflect that Linda Derschang, over the years, has operated 11 establishments since 1994, many of which (The Capitol Club, The Baltic Room, Chop Suey, Rob Roy, Bait Shop) she sold long ago.