Here’s one lesson for aspiring restaurateurs looking to thrive in a down

Here’s one lesson for aspiring restaurateurs looking to thrive in a down economy: Find a captive audience. That’s what Bruce Pinkerton has done on Elliott Ave. West at the foot of Queen Anne Hill. There, where hungry office workers are cut off from civilization by six lanes of roaring traffic, he recently opened Urban Cafe. The proprietor of Designed Dinners (which sells gourmet prepared meals at three other locations), Pinkerton has set up shop on the ground floor of the headquarters of technology firm F5 Networks. “It’s been a very quick turnaround,” he says. He got the keys on September 1, and opened his doors on the 9th. He’s there at the invitation of F5 management, who visited his nearby Urban Wine Cafe–a Designed Dinners outlet that also serves wine and small plates in-house–at Second and Denny. They asked him to create something similar at the languishing eatery in their building. “If someone had asked me six months ago if I would be doing what might be called corporate dining,” Pinkerton recounts, “I would never have imagined it. But with the fallen economy, Designed Dinners have not been selling so well. At Urban Cafe, we serve Designed Dinners to the staff at F5, Clearwire, KJR, all those guys. It’s been a really great opportunity.” And the response? “It’s been spectacular. We’ve gotten pretty much killed every day. We’re not selling Designed Dinners to take home yet, because we’ve been struggling to keep up with demand. That’s a great problem for a small business to have.”For more food events like this plus restaurant gossip and date night ideas, check out our weekly, Big Bites e-newsletter sent out every Tuesday. Sign up here and we promise we won’t send you a bunch of spam.