Seth Caswell Announces Imminent Closure of Emmer & Rye"/>
Seth Caswell, whose Queen Anne restaurant was a top destination for fellow participants in last month's star-studded Chefs Collaborative National Summit, yesterday announced emmer & rye will close after dinner service on Sunday.
Acknowledging in an e-mail to friends and fans that "this announcement will come as a surprise to most of you," Caswell attributed the closure to rising costs and the vast size of the two-story building housing his two-year old restaurant.
"After the Summit, I was humbly reminded that it goes well beyond food sourcing to make a restaurant a sustainable business," Caswell wrote. "My bills are 150 percent higher than they were when emmer & rye opened, but the check averages are the same."
When Caswell, a veteran of Stumbling Goat Bistro, opened emmer & rye in 2010, he hoped it would become a standard-bearer for local, seasonal cooking. But the Weekly's Jason Sheehan wasn't impressed by the results: "If only the food were better," he wrote in a review. "I walked out after that first night feeling fed, feeling as though I'd been reasonably well taken care of, feeling certainly like nothing about my meal had been bad--but, conversely, that nothing had been great about it either."
What was perhaps most notable about the restaurant was its appearance, which was far removed from the industrial look now favored by Seattle chefs: Sheehan described it as "all whitewashed walls, raw wood, big windows, and cabinets full of grandmotherly tchotchkes." In his e-mailed goodbye, Caswell said the "large, beautiful house" was the source of his troubles.
"I have sen repeatedly that Seattle diners really want to be supporting small, intimate spaces where they can be more attached to the stories they want to tell," he wrote. "The house proved to be much too large for the needs it was trying to fill."
In his e-mail, Caswell -- who still counts his Voracious Tasting victories as a career highlight -- left open the possibility of re-opening in a different format.
"It is time to return to the earth and sow our seeds for the future," he wrote. "I look forward to e&r 2.0 coming to a neighborhood near you."