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Capitol Hill food+drink | Why La Bête’s chef Dimitrijevich decided to slay his beast, start anew on Bellevue Ave

The rinds will survive the cut (Image: Zack Bent/La Bete)

The rinds will survive the cut (Image: Zack Bent/La Bete)

(Image: Zack Bent/La Bete)

(Image: Zack Bent/La Bete)

Aleks Dimitrijevich has created a monster on Bellevue Ave — a creature crawled from the bullshit of the restaurant business, a beast he helped create and is ready to bury.

“This isn’t about the lease at all,” La Bête’s chef and owner tells CHS. “It’s more about the spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of what that name has come to mean to me,” he says.

“I just want it simple. It’s bare bones and you want to get that particular thing you came for.”

On top of La Bête’s Bellevue Ave bones, Dimitrijevich tells CHS he will open a new, more focused restaurant that carries forward his aesthetics and favorite dishes while streamlining the new business and finding a new shape and flavor for it all. “It’s going to be something new and more focused,” he tells CHS. “There’s so many things I feel like I would have to fix with what we have now.”

“I have a decent idea,” Dimitrijevich said of what comes next. He plans to keep the remodel to the minimum to leverage the beautiful space he’s created over the past four years. The changes will give the restaurant a “smart new lease on life” focused more on a “fixed identity” than the roaming, seemingly limitless directions La Bête’s menus have sometimes wandered.

Speaking of bare bones, part of paring down to the new, focused venture will include a large, custom meat smoker that can fit up to 160 pounds of hams, roast, and what have you. “I like to tinker,” the chef says.

Dimitrijevich shocked Seattle’s food and drink community over the weekend with his long, thoughtful post to the La Bête Facebook page announcing the death of the beast and the birth of the new, yet-to-be-named creature. He didn’t say a lawsuit was forcing a name change or that the business was failing. He said he was killing La Bête:

La Bete is going to be closing its doors just as it turns four, August 16th, or just a couple days shy I guess.

We hope that you all pay us a visit over the next four weeks to say goodbye, lord knows that I’ll need as good of a send off as possible to make the next phase less of a financial burden…. Think of it as investing in your future place to hang out for great food and great drinks!!!
Going to take a couple days to myself next week to map out the next two months, see what needs to be done to the space, finalize the next concept, and then hopefully put that together quickly and re-open in the fall as something old, something new, couple things borrowed, and all for you to keep out the blue  Most of you that know me know that I work really really hard, and that I love that space a lot (much more so than the landlords that just raised my rent %33 after 4 years), and rest assured I will make sure that it gets a wonderful new lease on life, since I cant do anything about the bullshit that’s on paper.
And because I love this space I would rather change it up and hopefully do it better, work on improving some of the things that we are known for, and introduce something new things to the Capitol Hill scene once again….. and ive already started working on the next phase, diligent as I am. I just want to give it a fixed identity from here on out, something a bit more light hearted, not “the beast” that this place is, always changing, always needing constant attention; but fortunately, thanks in large part to the majority of the staff that has worked here, its always been pretty damn good if I don’t say so myself.

(Image: La Bete)

(Image: La Bete)

“Deep down it’s also a more personal /spiritual /philosophical reason that I want to get away from that name,” he continues, “‘the beast’ doesn’t need any more advertising than he already gets, not this day and age anyway.” You can read the rest here. And he had even more to say here. “No, the burgers and rinds aren’t going anywhere,” he promises, “nor is the mousse, for those of you that were worried about that… just gonna have a little more cowboy cow… and pig.”

Ethan Stowell alums Dimitrijevich and Tyler Moritz teamed up to open La Bête in the old Chez Gaudy space on Bellevue just off E Olive Way in 2010. Moritz was out by 2012 as Dimitrijevich battled on with the beast’s expensive start-up costs. The restaurant drew praise from critics and the experimental-minded Dimitrijevich made space to help launch the starts of other Capitol Hill food and drink artists like Wiley Frank and Poncharee Kounpungchart and Brandin Myett and Kari Brunson. With Moritz leaving the restaurant years ago, the corporate structure of La Bête was finally cleaned up this summer, according to a permit filing. Dimitrijevich carried, pulled, and sometimes dragged La Bête forward but he said the business has always remained in a messy harness with its past.

One option that was never on the table for Dimitrijevich was leaving Bellevue Ave. For one, La Bête cost a small fortune to build out. But, as you can probably tell from his Facebook essays, Dimitrijevich cares less about the money.

“I love that space. I love that building,” he said of The Burlingame, now 89 years old. “They don’t make stuff like that any more. It needs to be taken care of.”

La Bête will serve its final dinner on Saturday, August 16th and then close “for a few months.” You can find it at 1802 Bellevue Ave. Follow the La Bête Facebook Page to keep track of what comes next.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

  • 19th Ave E’s Monsoon unveiled its expansion Monday. Here’s a portion of the announcement:
    The 800 square-foot addition has 40 seats, nine of which are at the bar. The entire space is considered Monsoon’s bar area, and will be 21+. The back of the bar is covered in white tiles reminiscent of oyster shells, accented with glossy red shelving. A large light fixture made of wound branches hangs over the bar, complementing the warm bar top. The edges of the bar, a long slab of White Leaf Maple, have been left raw, with the original contours of the tree, giving the bar a soft, natural feeling. There are exposed concrete walls on the west side of the space and large sliding windows all across the east, on 19th Avenue, making it possible to open up the side of the building and let the sunny summer air in.

We’ve posted the whole thing here: Expanded Monsoon part of trio of new Banh projects


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6 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Why La Bête’s chef Dimitrijevich decided to slay his beast, start anew on Bellevue Ave

  1. La Bete is a really classy space with excellent food. It sounds like Mr. Dimitrijevich is a very conscientious and committed owner/chef, and I bet he will come up with some great changes to the place. It’s really unfortunate some greedy landlord raised his rent 33%…..that’s really outrageous. This will probably translate into increased prices, which is a pity because this was a moderately expensive place already (but worth it!).

  2. So in short, he is going to strip down the place so it can accommodate more tables. That’s better than closing for good.

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