Chef Tom Douglas says ‘Seattle is a funny restaurant town’

Nov 5, 2012, 8:12 AM | Updated: 12:51 pm

Chef Tom Douglas says Seattle’s restaurants are ‘a little homemade’ compared with...

Chef Tom Douglas says Seattle's restaurants are 'a little homemade' compared with other major city's establishments. (AP File photo)

(AP File photo)

Chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas, with 13 Seattle restaurants and more on the way, says Seattle is a “funny restaurant town.”

In an interview in San Francisco to promote his new book “The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook,” Douglas says, as you might expect, there’s no comparison between the City by the Bay and the Emerald City.

He points out San Francisco gets millions of tourists a year.

“You can support a type of food scene here that we could never support in Seattle,” Douglas tells Inside Scoop, a website for breaking news on restaurants.

“With that, just like Manhattan, comes diversity, depth. There’s a lot of depth in what you have,” he says. “There might be 10 notable bakeries in Seattle. In San Francisco, there might be 10 in the Mission alone. You have the ability to support that many.”

People who live here might not realize there is a Seattle style restaurant.

Douglas describes it as being, “A little homemade, not spending millions of dollars into decor. You don’t see many restaurants in Seattle with the big, million-dollar decor.”

He also notes a lot of national restaurateurs haven’t been able to make it in Seattle because it’s a “funny restaurant town.” He says here, we value health care, livable wages and time off more than other big cities.

While Douglas has many successful restaurants in Seattle, he admits he’s also had some “clunkers.”

“We had one in the Pike Place Market, on this beautiful corner that I was trying to clean. There are some issues in the Pike Place Market. Lots of homeless, drug dealers and thugs. It was starting to affect one of my long term restaurants, Etta’s,” he says.

Another restaurant that didn’t work was Ting Momo, a Tibetan dumpling house.

“Right next door, I had my most successful restaurant ever, Brave Horse Tavern, turning people away every night. And this Tibetan restaurant was empty,” Douglas says.

He finally closed that restaurant and had success when he turned it into a food truck business.

Opening restaurants is fun for Douglas, and a little bit like playing poker.

“In poker, you get dealt the cards, you put a couple chips down, make your decision. With restaurants, you’ve got an idea, the space, the right people to lead it, and I put a bet down on it,” he says.

Douglas doesn’t operate with partners or debt. He puts his own money into every project.

He’s remained loyal to Seattle, in part, because his daughter is here, a recent college grad.

“I certainly could’ve opened any place in the country, but I only have one kid,” he says. “I wasn’t interested in being (in another) place when she was growing up.”


Read the full interview from Inside Scoop here

The News Chick Blog

The wife of Seattle attorney Danford Grant moved his car away from one of the alleged crime scenes ...

No Author

Equal justice for Seattle lawyer accused of several rapes?

Has accused serial rapist Danford Grant gotten preferential treatment because both he and his wife are Seattle attorneys?

12 years ago

The Seattle-based I Can Has Cheezburger network now includes 60 humor sites. Many of their 90 emplo...

No Author

Seattle humor network, built with funny cat pictures, becomes a reality TV show

A small Internet empire with a funny name has billions of page views on its network of 60 humor websites based in Seattle. Now, I Can Has Cheezburger has a reality TV show too.

12 years ago

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent a combined $30.33 every second this election cycle. Wa...

No Author

Democracy and dollar signs – 2012 campaign spending

Washington initiative campaigns spent $34 million trying to win your vote, while President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent a combined $30.33 every second this election cycle.

12 years ago

Investigation continues into why a commander of the Bremerton-based Stennis carrier group was remov...

No Author

New ‘crazy’ conspiracy theory on Stennis Rear Admiral

The Pentagon shoots down theories about why the commander of the USS Stennis Carrier Group was removed from duty and sent back to the homeport in Bremerton.

12 years ago

Seattle photographer Paul Souders captures an adult polar bear up close in Hudson Bay in Churchill,...

No Author

Seattle photographer comes face to face with a polar bear

A wildlife photographer, who lives in Ballard, has taken thousands of stunning shots. None put him on "a razor's edge" more than a series of photos swimming with a polar bear.

12 years ago

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Staff Sgt. Robert Bales appears in a public, military courtroom today for ...

No Author

‘Prove it’ – Defense for solider accused of Afghan massacre

Joint Base Lewis-McChord Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a four-tour combat soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in March, faces an Article 32 hearing today.

12 years ago

Chef Tom Douglas says ‘Seattle is a funny restaurant town’