Few Americans observe the Fourth of July with a fancy dinner, which is why so many high-end Seattle restaurants are yanking Monday service off their schedules next week.
"People tell me families go to Whidbey Island," says Book Bindery general manager Jill Kinney, a New York City transplant who's only spent one Independence Day in Seattle. "Our owner said we should just close."
Kinney says the holiday weighs down sales even before the fireworks start shooting. Vacation plans and school schedules tend to make the first week of July quiet for restaurants.
"We've noticed a tremendous decrease in covers this week," Kinney says.
The early-summer slowdown doesn't afflict restaurants which specialize in barbecue, fried chicken, or other takeout items that appeal to lazy backyard grillers. Nation's Restaurant Newstoday reported that Famous Dave's and Popeye's anticipate robust holiday sales.
Other chains which stand to benefit from the holiday include Burger King and Denny's, which are patronized by three-day-weekend road-trippers. "We're an iconic American brand, so July Fourth is naturally a good holiday for us, especially with lots of Americans on highways traveling," a Denny's spokesman told Nation's Restaurant News. The chain is serving a "Tour of America" menu, featuring a Florida-orange milkshake, a meat-and-potatoes sandwich, and Hawaiian tropical pancakes, to highlight the holiday.
At Book Bindery, where seared halibut and a Hudson Valley foie gras terrine with truffle gelee count as celebrations of American regional cuisines, there are no plans to embrace Independence Day kitsch. Instead, Kinney says, the restaurant is considering instituting a European-style summer break. "I think we're going to move toward a 10-12 day seasonal closure around July Fourth," says Kinney.
This year, like most Seattle restaurants planning to close for the Fourth, Book Bindery will reopen on Tuesday.