Michael Mina (Finally) Comes Home to Washington

Michael Mina, in his whites but a long time gone from little ol' Ellensburg
Word is coming down right now that celebrity chef, author, restaurateur and coast-to-coast multi-unit operator Michael Mina will officially be bringing his San Francisco-born RN74 concept to Seattle.

It's been rumored for quite some time that this deal was in the works. People have talked about it, weighed the ups and downs and argued over what available location would be best for the serious weight that an operator like Mina would bring to Seattle. But the time for speculation appears to be done because not only do we have a confirmation that the deal is, in fact, going to happen, but we've also got a prospective date, an address, and a very cool Washington-based backstory on which to hang all this excitement.

What's that you say? A story? Oh, yes. See, while Mina might've been born in Cairo and first made a name for himself in 'Frisco, he was raised right here in Ellensburg (well, right close to here, I guess) and got his first taste of the kitchen life while doing time on the garde manger station at a small French restaurant in Ellensburg (which he would eventually end up running--at 16 or 17 years old) before even graduating from high school. After that, he did one year at the University of Washington (before bailing out for the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park), and while he was there, he earned his pesos on the line at...

...wait for it...

...Sky City! Yeah, no shit. Mina stood lunches working the grill on top of the Space Needle, burning strip steaks and cheeseburgers for 900 a day. All of this was before the CIA, before his time at the Hotel Bel Air with George Morrone, before Aureole and the 17 or so restaurants he runs now in California, Nevada, Washington D.C. and elsewhere. And it was about 20 years before today's announcement that Mina will now be coming back to Washington--and Seattle in particular--with his wine-soaked restaurant concept, RN74, named after the French Route National 74, which runs through the heart of Burgundy.

Unsurprisingly, RN74 is heavily into the grape juice--featuring lots of labels both from Burgundy and from Oregon and Washington State wineries--and will feature both a wine bar (for booze and snacks) and a more formal dining room (for proper meals, and even more wine).

But still, the two most important details here (beyond that whole Space Needle thing, which is just awesome) are the date and the place. And for that, I can offer you this: Seattle's RN74 will be going into the Joshua Green Building at 4th and Pike, and the best estimate of an opening date right now is just a little under a year off, with Mina and his people aiming for March 2011.

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