Empire builder Josh Henderson can't stop, won't stop. Not only does his Huxley Wallace Collective have three multi-pronged restaurant concepts in the works for the next twelve months, but he's also recruited some firepower from Grant Achatz's world-renowned Chicago restaurant group to elevate all of his existing and future projects to the next level.
Eric Rivera, an Olympia, WA native who first met Henderson back in his Skillet Street Food truck days, will be coming in hot after three and a half years as idea man, researcher and experience curator for Alinea, Next and Aviary, where he was promoted to director of culinary research operations. One-to-watch Rivera will relocate to Seattle in early April with his fiancé and prolific cake maker Kate Sigel, who is working on a business of her own called Sweet Tooth Cake Co.
As many of you know, Huxley Wallace had a banner year in 2014 — punctuated by a Bon Appetit accolade, James Beard nod and the major unveiling of "un-sports bar" Quality Athletics. But if restaurant openings are a form of measurement, 2015 should be even bigger. Henderson has teased future projects, and now he's ready to go public with key facts.
Rivera's first day with Huxley Wallace is April 15 and it won't be long before he turns that pedigreed lens to Henderson's next creation: a quick-service burger place adjacent to a tequila and taco bar in South Lake Union. The former will focus on a limited menu of quality burgers, fries and milkshakes done with locally sourced ingredients. Henderson will focus his design arsenal on the latter. (So yes, James Beard people, this is probably of interest.) The 15-seat "super sexy" affair will serve a menu of ceviches and four to six tacos built on tortillas, freshly made on the bar's comal. The burger-taco duo should open around October.
The second project will be a brasserie-style cafe right next to another outpost of the quick-service burger joint in Ravenna— both of which are loosely planned for August.
Finally, focus will shift to the largest opus of all: a South Lake Union spot that Henderson refers to as "my restaurant." Yes, he's planning to get back to his roots in the kitchen. The restaurant will also serve as a commissary for the growing Huxley Wallace Collective. Adjacent to it, there will be a bottle shop — complete with beer growlers — and a rotisserie chicken takeout joint offering birds by the whole or half. The hope is to get all of that up-and-running by January of next year. So if Josh Henderson is a household name in Seattle now, he's — quite literally — building a case for more national recognition in the coming year.
Want to get a glimpse at what Eric Rivera has been doing for the past few years? Watch him in conversation with Alinea's Grant Achatz and Mike Bagle.