Updated May 14, 2012 - 12:15 pm
Tom Douglas skipped James Beard Awards in effort to change fortunes
Tom Douglas holds up his James Beard Outstanding Restaurateur Award at 97.3 KIRO FM's Ross and Burbank Show. (MyNorthwest.com/Jamie Griswold)
Tom Douglas has been honored with James Beard nominations several times, and when his name once again appeared as a nominee in the Outstanding Restaurateur category, he was both pleased and doubtful.
"You're up against every restaurateur in America and the people that vote are supposed to have eaten in your restaurant, so it's just a little bit difficult for people to have tried our restaurants in Seattle," said Douglas, in an appearance on 97.3 KIRO FM's Ross and Burbank Show in March.
After past disappointments, Douglas decided he would take a different approach to this year's ceremony by not attending.
"It just occurred to me that I shouldn't go and maybe something would change," said Douglas.
He decided he would make the trip to New York, but instead of attending the ceremony, he went for a stroll through the city.
"My team of ten was there and I took a walk to my favorite stores, Zabar and Fairway Grocery, and beautiful brownstones on the upper West Side. Then I sat myself down at a bar a couple of blocks away from Lincoln Center to wait for my team."
Douglas said he ordered some wine and whiskey and had a reservation for ten awaiting his team's arrival after the ceremony.
"I had some big bottles of wine picked out because we were going to drown our sorrows in wine and whiskey."
The first buzz on his phone came from his daughter.
"I didn't answer," said Douglas. "I was in a restaurant so I don't usually answer at a bar."
Then Douglas said his phone just went nuts.
"Two hundred and fifty texts later, and almost 500 emails my phone was worn out," said Douglas.
He had finally won in the category of Outstanding Restaurateur.
Douglas said his partner, Eric Tanaka, who he describes as the backbone of the company, accepted the award.
"He got up on stage and didn't even introduce himself, just went off. He can talk like nobody's business," said Douglas.
The Outstanding Restaurateur definition calls for: "A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations and entrepreneurship." Tom Douglas owns 13 restaurants in the Seattle area. The award honors his accomplishments across all his properties.
By JAMIE GRISWOLD, MyNorthwest.com Editor
Jamie Skorheim, MyNorthwest.com Editor
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