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New Seafood Restaurant By Matador Duo is 'Not Willy'

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There's a plaque on the building that used to house Thaiku on Ballard Avenue reading "Willy's" but the new seafood restaurant being built inside won't have anything to do with killer whales. Yes to an oyster bar, yes to seafood smokers, yes to live lobster tanks, yes to chowder, yes to a champagne bar, yes to 130 or so seats, yes to East coast-style lobster rolls.

Opening? Well, that's harder to say. November or December is the target, but you know how it is with construction propjects (says a rep).

Zac Melang and Nate Opper, the duo behind the Matador mini-chain (seven restaurants) and the new Kickin Boot Whiskey Kitchen in Ballard are also the creators of "Not Willy." And they've got a lot on their plate, having opened Kickin Boot just last month and planning a Portland offshoot, Southland Whiskey Kitchen, for an October opening. (Melang personally builds much of the furniture for the restaurants.)

Thaiku closed in December after the owners and the landlord failed to come to terms for a new lease. Opper and Melang had been looking at the Thaiku space for a long time but didn't expect it would become available quite so soon.

What to name the place has been one of the biggest challenges, Opper told the Puget Sound Business Journal. Eater understands the reluctance to call the new spot something like Nate's Seafood (naming a restaurant after yourself is so gauche), and there's already the fanciful Walrus & Carpenter oyster bar down the street. But you could do worse than Ballard Fish.

· All Opper & Melang Coverage on Eater Seattle [-ESEA-]
· All Coming Attractions Coverage on Eater Seattle [-ESEA-]

Ronald Holden