All boarded up after only ten months: Cal's American Kitchen, the upscale beer and burgers spot on the ground floor of the Amazon headquarters at the corner of Terry and Harrison, in the very heart of South Lake Union, closed up shop on Tuesday night.
A telephone message directs callers to Cal's sister restaurant at Kent Station for information on redeeming Amazon Local coupons. (Ya gotta wonder what sort of trouble this is going to cause for the Amazon Local rep who sold the deal!)
A sign on the door suggests that something new -- perhaps even from the same owners -- is coming in its place.
Cal's opened in SLU to great fanfare last August. It was the second venture of a Tacoma company called Classic Concepts, whose founder was Jeff Chandler, the wizard who turned The Ram into a college sports bar franchise. The company's first project was the Cal's in Kent, which opened in October, 2011.
Former executive chef Shannon Galusha, meantime, left late last year for a position with Columbia Hospitality.
As a restaurant neighborhood, SLU is unexcelled during the day, with over 30,000 Amazonians and others hitting the pavement every lunchtime. Trouble is, many of them remember the days when Amazon's headquarters was on Beacon Hill, a brief stroll from the International District and its plethora of cheap & tasty eats. For them, anything costlier than a $6 burrito is excessive.
We've seen Tom Douglas make adjustments in the Terry Building, closing Ting Momo; we've heard (but not yet seen) Chris Keff put Flying Fish on the market. Portage Bay Cafe survives on its breakfasts, Cactus (so far) on its Tex-Mex fare and cheap drinks.
What South Lake Union needs, more than anything, isn't more restaurants, it's shopping. Clothing stores that stay open into the evening, coffee shops with pastries, antique dealers and bookstores that encourage people to browse. Wait, we used to have those antique stores along Westlake, didn't we? Until they got priced out by the office buildings. Egad.