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- One of the most interesting stories of the Capitol Hill food and drink economy over the last three years has been the rise of Laura Olson and Chris Pardo as some of the most active innovators in the scene. In relatively rapid succession, the duo’s Pterodactyl Group has opened Po Dog, Auto Battery, Grim’s, Manhattan Drugs and, now, The Social/EVO Tapas on Capitol Hill. CHS fields rumors on a semi-regular basis of plans for more. For now, however, there will be less.
Olson and Pardo are out at 12th Ave steakhouse concept Manhattan Drugs leaving a man in control of the restaurant who, until now, had been a silent partner in the project funding the restaurant from its beginning. Though, really, remaining Manhattan partner Jin Park remains silent, at least as far as CHS is concerned. We talked to a representative for the investor turned restauranteur to ask about what happened and what’s next at the restaurant — now re-dubbed to a simplified, and focused Manhattan.
“What you’re going to see are very subtle shifts,” Park’s rep told CHS. “We think it should represent a higher focus for fine dining.”
“It’s been known for drinking and fun place to be — that was what Pterodactyl is known so well for,” he said. “There needs to be a higher focus placed on fine dining. There was a bit to be desired on that front.”
That last part is probably an understatement. You can give this brutal review from the Seattle Weekly a read for a taste of what was was amiss at the Drugs-incarnation of the restaurant.
To achieve the goal of producing a higher quality experience, the re-energized Manhattan plans to do more to empower the people running its kitchen to succeed. It’s part of the reason Park is staying out of the spotlight — chef Khampaeng Panyathong should have a chance to shine.
The plan, the representative said, is to give the executive chef “complete control” of the menu to allow the chef to be “more inspired” and bring “more fun elements” to the offerings. “The old menu was more represenatitive of what other steakhouses around town had,” the representative said. You can expect more surprises with the new slate.
“The main face is KP,” the rep said of the new Manhattan.
Other parts of the plan are more about making a deeper investment in Manhattan as a fine dining experience. There are plans for a more up-to-date selection of wines and pairings. Manhattan also plans to invest in its staff. “We brought in some new staff with more experience in fine dining establishments,” the rep said.
More experience can cost more. The rep also insists Manhattan’s new ways will maintain the restaurant’s current price points.
“We just want to make sure that the restaurant and its space can be as succesful as possible,” the rep said. “It fills a niche but at the same time we want to be hitting price points and quality. If those things require a larger investment, so be it but I don’t want to get into that.”
The new Manhattan is very careful not to trash its old self — the rep wouldn’t comment on why these kinds of initiatives weren’t part of the restaurant from the start.
But the break-up of the partnership was certainly never in the plans. “Things changed as events happened,” the rep said and would not comment further.
Via email, Pardo told CHS only “our vision for the direction of the restaurant differed.”
“We love the space and wish them success in all their endeavors,” Pardo wrote.
Manhattan and Auto Battery are CHS advertisers.
- Speaking of The Social, here are pictures from the new dance club’s first Friday night.
- Our food and drink coverage didn’t become so, what would you call it… comprehensive until 2009. So our source for determining May birthdays is a little shallow. Holler if there are birthday boys and girls we’re missing. In the meantime, Capitol Hill congratulations to Healeo (2009), Porchlight (2009), Highline (2010), Sitka & Spruce(moved to Hill in 2010), Elysian Capitol Hill (1996), Sun Liquor (2006?), Marjorie (2010), The Confectional (2011),Artusi (2011), and Skillet (2011).
- Off Hill, celebrate 20 years of Cafe Flora.
- Free burgers Memorial Day Monday at Li’l Woody’s.
- Stranger’s Bethany Jean Clement manages to deliver another brutal review of a Capitol Hill restaurant with compassion and, dare we way it, love.
- Canon nominated for something else.
- 3 of Seattle’s top 10 waffles can be found on Capitol HIll or in the CD.
- Yes, somebody held up Capitol HIll’s take-and-bake Zaw Pizza.
- Poppy does TV:
- Nope, we don’t know what happened to the “new owner” for Pike Street Beer.
- The Broadway state liquor store rights are back on the auction block.
- Barrio is celebrating “Heat Week” with a jalapeno eating contest on June 9th.
- Plum is looking for people interested in joining a CSA to bring Hand-Farmed Organics to Capitol Hill.
- Marjorie has a new chef.
- Want to pretend you’re Molly Moon? Here’s how to make her salted caramel ice cream. Without a machine.
This week’s CHS food+drink advertiser directory