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Bannister Is Bringing Wine, Oysters, and Charcuterie to the Central District

Brian Wells is hard at work on his new restaurant next to Tougo Coffee.

Bannister is moving in next to Tougo.
Bannister is moving in next to Tougo.

Next month, Tougo Coffee's Brian Wells is opening a new restaurant next door to his coffee bar called Bannister. Anyone who has been to Tougo in the Central District knows Wells: he's the guy with the infectious personality and attitude that's reflected in both the cafe itself and its staff.

Bannister will feature charcuterie, cheese, oysters and more from Chefs Rebecca Cooley and Kathryn Padberg. The wine, beer, and cider list will be expertly curated by Jake Koseff, Managing Partner and Wine Director of Miller's Guild. And ‘Urban Cheesemonger' Sully McGinnis will be on point to craft a rotating selection of fromage to boot. Eater met with Wells to chat about Bannister earlier this week. Here's what he had to share about the CD's newest gastronomic entry:

So, we all know you are great at the coffee game. Why did you decide to open a restaurant?
I love charcuterie, I love cheese, Spanish olives, and that type of cuisine. I also enjoy the communal experience that comes with food. Eating together is another way to express love and to build and appreciate our community. I also believe that eating with your hands shows a strong respect of food. It eliminates any barrier between you and what you are eating.

What is your concept and where did it come from?

The name Bannister comes from Edward Mitchell Bannister who was a black artist from Nova Scotia. He migrated to Boston (where I’m originally from) and started a couple of art collectives on the eastern seaboard in the late 1800’s. I've always admired his work and I wanted to bring some African history to this neighborhood which is changing due to gentrification.

Can you share details about the menu?
Bannister will be a traditional charcuterie, cheese, and wine bar. There will be some prepared foods and our chefs are currently conceptualizing the menu. We're working in a smaller space with induction burners and we're going to stay focused on the Mediterranean genre with vegetarian options such as terrines, and both pickled and cured goods. We'll also be doing some of our own baking in-house.

Will Bannister collaborate with Tougo in any way?
They'll run independently. We're hiring our staff for Bannister from the Seattle Central culinary program and their focus will be entirely on the Bannister menu and will become experts on what we serve. Our plan on weekends will be to do ‘flights' of a certain type of dish, such as charcuterie — and we will guide you through dinner options while pairing the right drinks to go along with your food. People should be able to talk to our staff about where their food comes from and the significance of each ingredient.

Who should come to Bannister?
I'd love for people to come from all over Seattle to experience this kind of place. I don't want to exclude anyone and I want moms and dads to have their date nights here. It's very important for me to have a place for families to come to just as Tougo is.

What's there to do after a meal at Bannister?
There are some great choices right on this block. After dinner here you can go next door to the New City Theater. Hamlet will be running from October through November. You can come back for intermission and have a glass of wine or afterwards for espresso and dessert. Gallery 1412 also has jazz events next door. And, of course, the Central Cinema on 21st.

Bannister's grand opening is scheduled for October 24: It will initially offer late afternoon/evening food and drink, with plans to offer weekend brunches in the next few months. —Jason Price

Bannister, 1408 18th Ave., Central District, (206) 860-3518

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