Spur, Seattle closed. Is the bubble bursting?

Eater reports Spur Gastropub in Belltown has closed.

I was a surprised to read this because McCracken & Tough seemed to have their finger on the pulse and to be local favorites/media darlings for such a long time. Of course nothing lasts forever including (especially?) restaurant popularity, but some restaurant closings are more surprising than others. For restaurateurs it seems like the pie (market) isn’t getting that much bigger, just getting cut into smaller slices. Is the bubble about to burst? A lot of places do get re-branded or taken over, but I wonder if it’s getting close to impossible for anyone to really make it and survive long term.

Eater closure reports: http://seattle.eater.com/the-shutter

What local closures have you found surprising?

A lot of the creative, push-the-envelope type of places are definitely dying out. La Bête is gone. Sitka & Spruce has seen their foot traffic hampered by nearby construction. Crush, Hommage, Restaurant Zoe were all struggling to fill seats. These days, I can’t keep up with new openings because I’m more focused on catching places - either old favorites or one I’d been meaning to visit – before their closure. Frankly, the influx of transplants seem to be skipping these places, which saddens me greatly.

There are a handful of Seattle restaurateurs with their mini-empires who keep expanding and strengthening their grip of the food scene. I won’t name names but we know who they are. They tweak their concepts and decor and find the right niche for their neighborhoods… all the while keeping at a certain price point and and being careful not to cross over onto fine dining territory. Yet the food remains familiar and uninspired.

I’ve got my eye on a couple upcoming spots that supposedly are giving Seattle fine dining a much needed shot in the arm. Circadia, Scout, Copine… fingers crossed that they live up to the hype.

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I’ve been waiting for this shoe to drop for quite awhile.

The pernicious aspects of having everyone and their sister think they can succeed as a restauranteur, and the buzz being propagated, are (1) the half-life of good restaurants is short; and (2) many venerable places are starved to extinction.

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Yes, I think rather than the bubble bursting the life span of restaurants will merely get shorter. You get a couple years of opening buzz or bring the cool new spot, then good luck.

At least the banksters, contractors and landlords are doing well.

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Except for the bankers and landlords that aren’t getting paid - The Old Sage just closed and news is out of B McCracken’s financial woes. $48k owed to landlords and over a million to banks/dad.

http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2016/06/the-old-sage-closes-after-owners-2-4m-bankruptcy-filing/

The banksters will get paid (probably daddy’s credit line secured the loan), and rents are up. There’ll be another dreamer along any time…

Daddy is also suing to get his million back.

You’re right though, new ventures will soon appear.

But it still makes me wonder where all the money went. Were they just not worried about cost? Partied too hard? You’d hope that out of four restaurants/bars, a few would be profitable. Or did they sink so much into them that $2.4m is after having paid some debt already?

This is an astute summary of a major problem plaguing the local dining scene. The imperials roll out highly polished and cleverly situated but minimally creative reiterations of well-worn formulae: “safe” and crowd-pleasing dishes, mid-range pricing, re-purposed/hipster/nostalgic furnishings. These formulaic restos skim off limited consumer dollars that might otherwise be spent at more innovative or fine-dining establishments. We had debated the reasons why this might happen in an earlier CH post. It does seem to be related to the tendency of local media/blogs to view the latest opening by an imperial as per se buzz/news-worthy, simply by virtue of name-recognition.

Thats one factor, but it’s not like nobody ever notices or favorably reviews the more esoteric places. They are by nature competing for a smaller segment of the population. If you don’t have the crowd pleaders, how can you please the crowds? The challenge for chefs and restaurateurs is to stand out enough and be different enough while still appealing to a wide variety. Maybe Tom and Ethan have managed to do that better than the rest. And I’m no fan of theirs, I just know it’s hard. I know that chocolate with caramel will vastly outsell chocolate with fernet branca or chocolate with lime leaf. Is your twist a half twist, full twist, or figure 8?

For example, Mollusk has been having a hard time finding their footing. Eater covers and likes them, but they’re revamping the menu to be more mainstream. The SLU crowd and the craft beer crowd don’t necessarily want octopus waffles. You think a posse of tech bros is going to haul over to Dexter after work for beers and green strawberry salad with rhubarb labneh?
This menu seems overwrought to me.

http://binged.it/28O8qDa

I realized I shouldn’t assume undue drama in the McCracken family lawsuit. My brother pointed out that it could be more of a formality so the dad can write off the loss at tax time.

Since Brian and wife are declaring personal bankruptcy, does that mean they didn’t have an LLC and anyone who is foolish enough to be a sole proprietor (oops :flushed:) should incorporate ASAP?

Daddy ought to take Sonny to the woodshed…

I don’t know the people or the specifics, but the pattern is familiar–delusions of grandeur.

“I can cook” isn’t synonymous with “I can succeed as a restauranteur.”

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Hey, it’s a year later, and this BA guy is coming up for a long weekend.

Anyplace particular you would send my jaded self, people still doing interesting food that haven’t been flushed out ?

( In the bay area, it’s definitely bubble-popping. The expansion of the mini-chain has taken full hold. )

You might like London Plane.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold