For years, Seattle has played its own little game of "Where's Waldo" with legendary barman Murray Stenson at the center. From watering hole to watering hole, Stenson has roamed, never losing sight of his ultimate goal: opening a place of his very own. Thanks to a tipster, Eater has learned that Stenson is now back behind a bar in Belltown, Vittles; the search for his own suitable space, though, continues.
During his 40-year career behind some of the most famous bars in Seattle, Stenson has traversed the town more than once. Stenson, a 40-year veteran, is most famous for his time building Zig Zag into one of the most talked about bars in the country. He's traversed the town more than once, making his mark on some of Seattle's most notable bars.
Stenson has pulled duty at a couple times at the romantic bar under Pike Place Market, Il Bistro, and stirred with the best at Canon. He's rolled through Elysian Bar (along with half of Seattle's best ‘tenders), Belltown's Queen City Grill, and the darling E. Smith Mercantile. Most recently, Stenson has been doing his thing at Kaname Izakaya in the International District. The past few years have been peppered with a broken arm and even a heart surgery, with the latter funded partially by his biggest fans and friends in the industry.
Two weeks ago, Stenson took his latest post after the owner of Vittles sought him out at Kaname. Stenson says that his time at the Japanese restaurant is likely not over and he still intends to work there in the future. As for why the move to Vittles, Stenson explains that he loves the "comfortable feel of a good neighborhood bar with no pretenses that offers good food."
All along, Seattle has been waiting for Stenson to open the restaurant and bar he's promised in at least a half dozen interviews. Hurry up and wait some more, Stenson says, telling Eater that although he got close recently, things fell through at the last minute.
"My partner and I couldn't come to terms with the landlord of our desired space. After six months, we are back at square one," Stenson relates. For now, he's working at Vittles Tuesday through Friday and consulting at a couple of neighborhood bars. But lest folks believe all hope is lost, Stenson assures fans that he and his partner are still "scouting a good location."