Heads up, Belltown: a new upscale Mexican restaurant called Tres Cocina/Cantina is on the way to 2326 First Avenue later this year.
The short-lived Red King Crab previously at the same address in the venerable Austin Bell Building is gone, and Eater has learned that an experienced trio of local restaurant operators is taking over the 5,500-square-foot space, which has previously been occupied by Taberna del Alabardero and Cascadia.
The three business partners ("Tres" means three in Spanish) are chefs Erwin Arceo and Zach Nethercutt and bar manager Dave Tolan. They've been operating the Belltown Pub, a couple of doors to the south, for the past five years. "We'd just got the pub running the way we wanted it, and we could have sat back. But Kennie [Yoon, owner of Red King Crab] asked us if we wanted to take over his lease. What he didn't know what that we'd actually looked at the Taberna space years before, and we had a business plan ready to go," Tolan said.
The trio started by gutting the "old fashioned" interior, with its pale-lemon walls and niches for expensive artwork, in favor of a very large bar island that occupies the center of the 5,500-square-foot space. Upscale Mexican here means yes to high-end spirits and cocktails. Yes to salads with quinoa and kale. Yes to tableside ceviche. No to refried beans with cheddar.
The only part of the restaurant the team didn't touch is the "million dollar" kitchen, which was installed to chef Kerry Sear's specifications over a decade ago. (Sear was formerly executive chef for the Olympic Hotel, and is currently the executive chef for the new Four Seasons travel program). Opening for Tres, if all goes well, will be in mid- to late October.