Gee and Ursula: How Canlis’ new hours could make or break its future

Apr 6, 2024, 3:41 PM

Photo: Seattle's Canlis restaurant....

Seattle's Canlis restaurant. (MyNorthwest File Photo)

(MyNorthwest File Photo)

Seattle’s Canlis is changing its summer hours. The fine dining restaurant announced, via a Facebook post last week, it will be closed on weekends and will instead be open Monday through Friday. The change was made so the Canlis team could “enjoy real weekends for a change,” according to the post.

However, the schedule shift could be a major disruptor as weekends are vital for the restaurant industry with Saturdays usually raking in the most money.

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According to the Seattle Times, the idea was originally posed by Canlis’ Director of Hospitality and Senior Dining Room Manager Kyle Johnson.

Canlis owner, Mark Canlis, told the Seattle Times with the upcoming change they risk losing customers which could negatively impact their future.

Yet, Johnson said, “Any night of the week at Canlis is special. It can be Tuesday or Wednesday, and for summer 2024, it can be Monday nights,” reported the Seattle Times.

The Seattle Times also said an extra incentive to dine on Mondays will be the return of pianist Walt Wagner.

“Saturday is the No. 1 play day of the week,” Mark Canlis told the Seattle Times. “And we’ve asked our staff to not play for 74 years.”

So is closing weekends a good or bad idea? Gee Scott, host of “The Gee and Ursula Show” on KIRO Newsradio asked his colleagues what they thought.

Travis Mayfield, who filled in as Gee’s co-host on “Gee and Ursula” on Thursday said they are missing the bigger headline — “Seattle restaurant now open on Mondays,” he replied.

“I saw this on Instagram and I was just like, — what now? — Canlis?” Mayfield continued.

I kind of am into seeing how this works. I love the idea of treating your staff if the staff really genuinely want this. Because that’s my question, does the staff actually want this?” he continued.

Gee said he’s never stepped foot in Canlis but has heard great things. He said the schedule change is the restaurant saying two things.

“One, we value our employees that much and our staff, we want them to really enjoy their time to get Saturdays off. I bet you for some of them is going to be just huge. And two, I think this is Canlis doubling down and saying our stuff’s good. We’re really good,” Gee said.

And when you’re really good, you can do what you want to do. Right? You could be a restaurant that says I’m going to open three days a week, if you’re good people will come it doesn’t matter,” he said.

KIRO Newsradio producer Andrew Lanier, who has spent years working in kitchens, said he doesn’t know if he would be happy with the change.

“As a cook, I’d probably be better off with this than as a server because I’m going to be anticipating less guests. It’s not going to be as much work for me. But if you’re a server, you’re missing out on your moneymaker,” Lanier said.

Lanier also mentioned Canlis has said the money it makes in the summer keeps it afloat the rest of the year.

“So if you’re looking at basically taking away one year’s worth of profits, Boy, you better believe in that,” he continued.

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Lanier also noted that during his time in the restaurant industry, having Mondays and Tuesdays off “is glorious,” because no one else is out.

“You’ve never need to make reservations or think ahead for anything. It is wonderful. I wish I could have Mondays and Tuesdays off now,” he said.

But, what do local servers think? Gee said the majority of those who texted into the show said they wanted their Saturdays.

This brought Gee to ask: “Is it possible Travis, even though that’s their day, where Canlis is so good, that now it increases during the week?”

Mayfield pointed out that when he’s going to Canlis, it’s already for a very special occasion, so no matter the day of the week, he is still going to tip very well.

So if you’re planning a Canlis dinner, it will have to be during the week starting Memorial Day, according to the restaurant.

Julia Dallas is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read her stories here. Follow Julia on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email her here.

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m.- noon on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee and Ursula: How Canlis’ new hours could make or break its future