After nine years, Tom Douglas’s two South Lake Union restaurants — gastropub Brave Horse Tavern and pasta spot Trattoria Cuoco — will close permanently as of July 15, according to an official announcement from the chef’s restaurant group Tom Douglas Seattle Kitchen.
Both spots had been shut down since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and on Friday, Douglas announced he would not renew their lease at Amazon’s Terry Avenue building. They were both in the heart of the tech company’s campus, an area that has been quiet for months after the company urged its employees in the corporate Seattle offices to work from home.
“Many factors weighed into the determination, but in the end, it is the appropriate choice for our business,” said Douglas in a statement.
Brave Horse was known for its extensive selection of beers and substantial bar bites, including brick oven-baked soft pretzels, fried cheese curds, and burgers. Meanwhile, neighboring Cuoco had earned some kudos for its respectable pasta dishes and steaks in a family-friendly setting.
But both restaurants relied on the afterwork Amazon crowd, which disappeared quickly in the early months of the pandemic, and will likely continue, even as some restaurants in Seattle reopen for limited dining service during phase two of Washington’s “Safe Start” plan. In May, Amazon sent a memo to its employees saying that they can work from home until October 2, if their roles allow them to do so.
Douglas had braced for such impacts. After closing all his restaurants temporarily in March due to the impacts of COVID-19, the chef expressed doubts on the likelihood of reopening most of them back up again. He said that it was time to build “from the ground up” under difficult conditions. Brave Horse Tavern and Cuoco are the first official permanent closures since then, while his other downtown restaurants, such as Dahlia Lounge and Palace Kitchen, remain temporarily shuttered.
But the chef also opened Serious Takeout in Ballard this past April, an offshoot of his popular pizza restaurant Serious Pie, serving up pizzas and oven-baked sandwiches, as well some popular dishes from Douglas’s other restaurants on occasion for curbside pickup and delivery. It’s also possible some other spots may come back soon. According to the recent statement, Tom Douglas Seattle Kitchen is currently “navigating the reopening process” for its locations downtown.