Friends, family, supporters of great locally-produced foods-
Sadly, emmer&rye will be closing the Queen Anne restaurant on Sunday, October 28 after dinner service. The past (nearly) three years have been a joy for me and the staff to serve the local community and Seattle, but now, as the seasons change, it is time to return to the earth and sow our seeds for the future. I look forward to e&r 2.0 coming to a neighborhood near you.
This announcement will come as a surprise to most of you. emmer&rye has been bringing the best local ingredients to the table through a knowledgeable and friendly staff. Many of us have plans and some (myself included) are able to catch up on some rest, spend time with family, and reset for the Next Big Adventure.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of helping to organize and attend Chefs Collaborative National Food Summit in Seattle. More than 300 attendees including more than 100 chefs gathered to discuss the direction of the sustainable food movement and to transform the notions of farm-to-table cuisine into second nature to chefs.
After the Summit, I was humbly reminded, however, that it goes well beyond just food sourcing to make a restaurant a sustainable business. Employees, vendors, location, hardware, messaging - there are many tangible (and even more intangible) components to pull of this Herculean feat. With restaurants operating on such tight profit margins, it is very difficult to deal with the increasing cost of goods and services today. My bills are 150% higher than they were when emmer&rye opened, but the check averages are the same.
Initially, I was attracted to the large, beautiful house in this quaint neighborhood, but I have seen repeatedly that Seattle diners really want to be supporting small, intimate spaces where they can be more attached to the stories that the food has to tell. So, with an awesome private dining room, two outdoor seating areas and a large dining room, the house proved to be much too large for the needs it was trying to fill. Despite the immense pleasure I receive from cooking for each and every guest, I felt too distanced from many of the diners and became uncertain if my message was being transferred through the plates of food.
It is clear that I am and will always be a staunch supporter of building and supporting stronger and more dynamic local food networks. But, it is obvious that there is so much work still to be done on many fronts. For the mission of emmer&rye to become second nature not only to my staff, but to the dining public at large, it will take varied efforts and more soldiers to fight the battle against corporate food groups, GMOs, chemical additives and the large roster of "un"sustainable products and companies we are fighting against. I will continue to be on the front line and advocate for what I truly believe is the only solution to our impending food crisis - eat it to save it.
Thank you to all of the support for emmer&rye. From the dinners I served in the fields of our farmers, to the intimate private wine and beer dinners, to the drunken cooking victories on the stage of the Paramount Theater, to the happy couples who have dated and gotten married at emmer&rye, there are millions of great memories to hold on to forever. Thank you to the vendors who have brought be the literal fruits of their labors. I hope we continue to directly impact them by supporting farmers markets and eating at restaurants that serve their bounties.
I look forward to future efforts with the Seattle food community and making Seattle the great dining destination we already know it to be.