Josh Henderson’s prolific Huxley Wallace Collective suddenly has a lighter portfolio of restaurants as Poulet Galore, Cantine, and recently rebooted Vestal have shuttered in South Lake Union. The trio of restaurants — a rotisserie chicken walk-up, a casual beer bar, and Henderson’s wood-fired passion project respectively — launched during an opening spree last year that focused heavily on South Lake Union with the likes of new chain Great State Burger and the ill-fated Bar Noroeste.
The restaurant group announced the news on the Vestal website, stating that “we weren’t able to make these concepts work in this location”:
Friends! Thank you for your patronage. It saddens us to say it, but Friday, August 11th, will be our last service. Despite an amazing staff and effort we weren’t able to make these concepts work in this location. We want to thank all who’ve joined us this past year. We hope to see you at our other Huxley Wallace Collective Restaurants.
With so many new projects, perhaps it’s no surprise that it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Henderson’s restaurants. Vestal, though critically acclaimed, closed temporarily in March to scale back its high-end dining and try to attract the office crowd with a renewed focus on casual lunch and happy hour — clearly to no avail. Henderson also replaced the boundary-pushing Pacific Northwest-inspired taco spot Bar Noroeste with Kiki Ramen in February, dialing back the creativity and catering more directly to the Amazonia workers. It seems success is not a given in South Lake Union, despite a huge influx of restaurants and hungry workers.
And yet Henderson’s Great State Burger, the first of which opened around the same time as the above restaurants, seems to be faring well; a third location for the chainlet opened in the International District last month. It clearly pays to give the people what they want.