Last week, after months of back-and-forthing and the swear-on-their-mother's-eyes insistence by those who claimed to know, we finally got the straight story on one of the bigger restaurant world rumors of the season: the closure (and sale, and quick re-opening) of Ballard's Lunchbox Laboratory. For those of you who missed it, the food porn favorite pulled up stakes (last day: yesterday) and is moving into the Southlake Grill space in South Lake Union.
Photo courtesy myballard.com
So with that rumor finally put to bed, we moved onto one of the other big stories that's been making the rounds of the restaurant world for the past few weeks: the story that restaurateur Tom Douglas is secretly involved somehow in the new 5 Corner Market that just opened in the former home of Lombardi's (also in Ballard).This has been one of those rumors that just will not die. And it's ridiculous for a couple of reasons.
First, we're talking about Tom Douglas here. The man doesn't make himself a sandwich without putting his name on it in really big letters. Love him or hate him, he's got one of the most recognizable names in the Seattle food scene and he knows how to use it. So if he really was throwing his weight behind some new joint down in Ballard, there's no reason why he'd do it in secret. He would tell EVERYONE.
Second, a quick call to Douglas got me a rather straightforward answer. I asked him if he was involved in the new 5 Corner opening and he said no.
"No money? No blood? No nothing?" I asked.
"Nope. Nothing. Not me," said the big fella.
And when I called chef Sam Crannell just to make double-sure, he said the same thing. No Douglas, in any form, except that Douglas and the actual super-secret money-man behind 5 corner "go way back."
The actual muscle behind 5 Corner is a big name in his own right, though: it's Steve Hayter (ex of Starbucks where he was the Director of Product Development for Seattle's Best Coffee), who is listed as the sole name under "Governing People" on the business license for Mill Creek Hospitality, and on the DBA for 5 Corner Market.