Marmite, the seasonal French restaurant in Capitol Hill helmed by Seattle fine dining legend Bruce Naftaly, will run its last service on Monday, July 31. The restaurant announced via its Instagram on Wednesday, July 19, that Naftaly would be “retiring from running restaurants,” but that a Vietnamese restaurant called Xom would eventually be moving into the space in Chophouse Row.
Naftaly came out of retirement in 2016 to open Marmite alongside his wife, Sara, who launched an adjacent bakeshop, Amandine, the year before. She also heads up the cocktail bar, Spirit in the Bottle, that’s tucked inside Marmite. Amandine shuttered in 2020 amid a tidal wave of COVID-19 related restaurant closures.
Bruce launched Le Gourmand, a Ballard bastion of Northwest cuisine, in 1985, and its ethos of exactingly sourced local ingredients prepared with classic French techniques came to define our region’s culinary landscape. In 2003, the Naftalys added a bar, Sambar, to the Le Gourmand space, introducing many Seattleites, for the first time, to craft cocktails.
Marmite was a more compact and casual counterpoint to the white-tablecloth Le Gourmand, which closed in 2012, and it quickly became the centerpiece of a bustling food and beverage enclave in Chophouse Row. The charming alleyway and courtyard hidden away in the heart of Capitol Hill has seen some turnover in tenants since developers launched it in 2015; Sara Naftaly ran a creperie, Petite Galette, out of the space behind Marmite for less than a year, and its successor, By Tae sushi counter, was open for two years before shuttering in 2021. But it’s heartening news that a new restaurant will be taking over the space, and wine bar Light Sleeper, Sweet Alchemy Ice Creamery, and Italian deli La Dispensa show no signs of letting up.
Naftaly told Eater Seattle via email that although he is retiring from restaurants, he plans to continue teaching cooking classes and running private events, and is “looking forward to doing a lot of work building and strengthening ties between local farms and ingredient producers and the community.”
Update, Wednesday, July 26, 3:29 p.m.: This article has been updated to include comment from Bruce Naftaly