Maybe the Vegas vibe isn’t suited for Seattle after all: ultra-fancy Circadia has closed just half a year after taking on the high end of dining downtown. A tipster spotted yesterday’s Facebook announcement, which left the door open to a future comeback, saying, “We are currently closed for business while we ponder our next chapter,” and linking to a newsletter sign-up for updates. Hard to say whether the restaurant will bear the blame in observers’ minds or if Seattle’s alleged aversion to glamorous fine dining will take the brunt of complaints.
In a city ruled by casual dining experiences, Circadia’s concept was a challenging proposition, inspired as it was "by the Hollywood and New York City eateries of the 1930s," and "joyfully combin[ing] old school glamour with quintessential northwest sensibilities." Even recently, anecdotal evidence suggests high-end is high risk in Seattle. Capitol Hill’s Naka transformed to the more casual Adana, and Vestal is currently remaking itself as a lower-key player in South Lake Union.
But Circadia’s leadership team — chef Garrett Melkonian won accolades at Mamnoon; co-owner Jake Kosseff is an acclaimed sommelier and a former partner at Miller's Guild; and Jeanie Inglis is a business strategist for luxury wineries and startups — gave hope that this project could achieve ambitious goals.
Alas, things didn’t go smoothly from the start. Circadia dropped its no-tipping policy early on. A two-star review from Seattle Times’ critic Providence Cicero admired that the restaurant was “puttin’ on the glitz like nowhere else in town,” but dinged the food and service as “inconsistent” and wondered who its audience would be. And the writing seemed to be on the wall when Circadia announced last month that the launch of its spring menu signaled a shift toward approachability. At the same time, Kosseff and Inglis stepped back from day-to-day operations, while the third co-owner, former media executive Corry Hart-Clayville, stepped in to help Melkonian take the reins.
Seattle Magazine was hopeful in its report on the changes: “Making the restaurant more about the food and the chef and less about the glitz and glamor—something Seattleites, weirdly, get their hackles up over—may be the saving grace.” But just a few weeks later, the experiment is over, at least for now. Whether you blame the restaurant, the city, or some other factor entirely, Circadia requests that you “Please stay tuned as we embark on our next adventure.” Beyond that, the restaurant’s owners had no comment.