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How Should the Seattle Restaurant Industry Evolve in 2024?

Food writers and insiders share their hopes for the future

An image of a pair of hands holding a restaurant check. Shutterstock

As 2023 is flushed down the toilet of time and 2024 comes to take its place, Eater Seattle is once again surveying a panel of food writers and industry insiders about the year that was and the future of Seattle dining.

In our final entry in this series, we’re asking them to pick their hopes for the restaurant industry in 2024. Their answers are below. For previous entries in this series, go here.

Gabe Guarente. editor at SEAToday

Just that staffing issues start to resolve — it seems like we’re starting to turn a corner, but many restaurants still struggle.

Meg van Huygen, food writer at The Stranger, Eater Seattle, and elsewhere

With Seattle rents endlessly skyrocketing, it’s not fair that chefs with brick-and-mortars should be hogging most of the press, so I’m trying to advocate the pop-ups and food trucks as much as possible, and I hope other people take notice as well. The issue of gougey landlords is a real crisis in Seattle that needs to be halted, so that’s another (naive) hope of mine for 2024. But yeah, the creativity that’s emerged as a result has been hella inspiring.

I’m also grateful to Edgar D’Souza, who runs the @seattlepopups IG profile, for telling people where to go every week!

Naomi Tomky, writer and author of The Pacific Northwest Seafood Cookbook

That it finds a way to pay everyone in the industry a livable wage. That landlords begin to realize the long-term value of having consistent, local restaurants in their buildings and neighborhoods, and work with restaurateurs to make that happen. (FWIW, the bulk of the restaurants that survived the last few years have said to me that in some form or another, their landlord cut them slack or helped them out. The ones that didn’t survive often said the opposite.)

Syd Suntha, owner of Kottu and host of the Seattle Restaurant Podcast

My biggest hope for the restaurant industry in 2024 is for people that make 100K+ a year to stop bitching about the price of food. No one is getting rich doing this. You don’t see line cooks driving Teslas. Most of us don’t have health insurance. Right now I feel like most restaurants are just barely surviving but they are too scared to raise their prices. If you want to see some really cool innovative shit in this city, stop complaining about prices. No one works their best while being told, “We think you make too much money for what you do.”