There’s a major overhaul coming to star chef and restaurateur Ethan Stowell’s Seattle empire. By January 1, Bramling Cross and Marine Hardware in Ballard, and Super Bueno in Wallingford will all close permanently. The former two will turned into event spaces, while the latter will eventually transform into another location for Stowell’s Italian restaurant Tavolata. New Year’s Eve will be the last night of service for all three.
At the time it opened in 2015, gastropub Bramling Cross was Stowell’s thirteenth restaurant and hoped to latch on to the trend of microbreweries serving fancier bar food. About a year later, Marine Hardware debuted as an Italian-leaning tasting menu restaurant that took over the chef’s more casual spot, Chippy’s, next door to Staple and Fancy. Wallingford’s Super Bueno opened in 2018 and was Stowell’s effort at a fast-casual Mexican restaurant, with menu items such as chicharrones, chilled watermelon salad (with the surprising addition of pop rocks), and shrimp ceviche. But none of the three seemed to get as much traction as some of Stowell’s more popular places, such as Tavolata and How to Cook a Wolf.
“We love these concepts,” said Stowell in a statement. “But if I’m being honest, they’ve all been challenging from an operational perspective and never been as successful as they need to be.”
The move to close these restaurants and focus more narrowly on what has worked well before may come as little surprise for those following Stowell’s recent trajectory. In early November, when the chef inked a deal with the Seattle Hospitality Group to free up more cash, he indicated a desire to expand with existing concepts, not one-offs. To that end, the chef recently opened his first New York City outpost of How to Cook a Wolf (called simply Wolf), and is planning another Seattle location for mid-2020. There’s also another Tavolata on the way soon, in addition to the one that Super Bueno will become.