Hot Dish

THRIFTWAY SAFE—FOR NOW

Queen Anne residents heaved a sigh of relief when word got out that the scheduled demolition of their own personal boutique supermarket had been delayed for at least two years. What got missed in the small print was the bad news. If opposition from immediate neighbors and inflexibility by city zoning officials aren't overcome, Queen Anne Thriftway won't thereafter be closing for 18 months to allow construction of a posh, expanded new store with apartments above it: It may well disappear for good.

Neighbors naturally are nervous about more traffic in an already congested neighborhood; city resistance is strictly bureaucratic. To encourage greater housing density, Seattle gives a break to developers who build residential space over retail outlets, even in areas where there's no traffic to support retail. But the rule is one size fits all, and retailers with special needs, like supermarkets—vast parking space, higher ceilings, ventilation, etc.—don't fit. The only way to make an expanded Thriftway fit height restrictions on the present tiny Queen Anne footprint would be to put the store pretty much underground. Larry's Markets chose that route for its store at the foot of Queen Anne; Terry Halvorsen of Food Markets Northwest (proprietor of the Queen Anne store) feels that daylight is crucial to draw and encourage shoppers and is determined not to go that route to meet height restrictions. But with land value on Queen Anne as high as it is, Halvorsen can't pay his landlord, Queen Anne Properties, a reasonable rent without housing atop the project. If the city doesn't blink, in a few years there may be Queen Anne Thriftways in West Seattle, Tacoma, and (soon) Federal Way—but not on Queen Anne.

PRE-EMPTIVE STRIKE

Genetically modified fish aren't even on the market yet, but if Friends of the Earth and other environmental watchdogs get their way, they never will be. An application by Aqua Bounty Farms to field a genetically tweaked salmon brought 70 groups together in a lawsuit, but just in case the FDA isn't cooperative, a nationwide campaign to boycott the product is already well under way, with over 200 distributors, grocers, and restaurants signing on. In Seattle alone, Ballard Market, Central Market, Greenwood Market, Madison Market, Magnolia Thriftway, Queen Anne Thriftway, and all PCCs took the pledge. (All Whole Foods stores nationwide have also signed on.) Among local restaurants, early adopters include Brasa, Fandango, Flying Fish, and Ray's Boathouse. Check www.centerforfoodsafety.org/gefish/index.html for a complete list, updated regularly.

TO TACOMA . . . AND BEYOND!

Paul Mackey fulfilled a youthful dream when he revived Seattle restaurant legend el Gaucho in 1996. Now he's dreaming again—about expanding his steak house's franchise nationwide. A second Gaucho opened next door to Portland's posh Benson Hotel in 2000. Next up? Tacoma, at a site on Pacific Avenue near the old Union Station. Opening in November, it will offer the full Gaucho experience: high-style surf 'n' turf menu, extensive wine list, piano bar, cigar lounge, and valet parking. How did that Liza Minnelli song go? "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere . . ."

Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at food@seattleweekly.com

 
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